Eowyn's Tale - Her side of the story during the War of the Ring.
He was failing. Dishonourable dotage was claiming him every day. I saw it in his eyes, once so full of a shining light are now dulled and dim. Wormtongue poisoned his mind with lies and there was little I could do to delay it. He haunted my steps and watched me from beneath hooded eyes, I almost feared to be near him. Eomer knew of his lusts and threatened him at sword point. I wished indeed that Wormtongue might take fatal harm and free me from this torment, yet the delusion of Theoden saved him and Eomer is imprisoned. My dear brother was punished for defending me and I cannot help but feel guilty, I believed it was my fault. They are gone now though and I have a small measure of relief yet my heart and mind is filled with a new thought. Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir of Elendil and the throne of Gondor. I first laid eyes on him when he came with Gandalf Stormcrow, many moons hence. The travellers were held in angered converse by my lord and scorned by the worm who speaks with the King's tongue. They underestimated the strength the company had; I saw a veiled power in Aragorn and a shadow of the majesty of kings and a lineage of Westernesse. I confess, to him my eyes were mostly drawn and I trembled at our brief touch. The wizard convinced my lord of his strength as Wormtongue never did and I was shocked to see him standing tall, an image of his former glory. When their meal was taken Wormtongue was sent for and Theoden recovered Herugrim, the clash of the Eorlingas' swords came to me from afar yet never am I permitted to ride with the Rohirrim and set my sword to the hewing of our enemies. How I longed for the chance to prove my worth as a shield maiden that day. Presented with a corslet and sword I am charged with the leadership of Edoras and not of the horse that would bear me to war. Bright in the sun was my mail yet dark were my thoughts when those I loved rode away.
My people grow anxious and weary of waiting. Many have departed with scant wains of their belongings to the hold in the hills of Dunharrow, there will the people last long and thither will come all those who return from war. Safety we may find in caves until all is lost and our defence in vain and then we shall be renowned in no song or tale. Renown may be won in battle and valour in arms would be mine should I be released from my charge as a dry nurse. Yet never will I relinquish a charge laid upon me by the man I love as a father until he is gone and his memory faded. Therefore to the safety of the hills of Dunharrow I will ride and send my people to security they will not find in this fair city.
Black thoughts grew ever deeper in my mind. The Dúnedain and fair sons of Elrond stayed with me at the Holds but now they are gone. Ridden to paths I dare not think of for their reputation precedes them and terror accompanies their titles. I was glad when the weathered, grim rangers arrived, my lord Aragorn was with them and his presence made my heart strike a faster pace. I thought their errand might have been to seek rest at these halls or at least just to bring tidings of my king and brother. Tidings I took of the battle of Helm's Deep and pride rose within me when I heard of the deeds of Theoden and Eomer in their peril. The notion that Aragorn may have come to see me did occur yet it was lost when he told me of his true mission.
"Indeed no man could count such a journey wasted," he said when I asked him, "and yet lady, I could not have come hither, if it were not that the road which I must take leads me to Dunharrow." I was disheartened for though his words were fair I was not his reason.
"Then lord, you are astray, for out of Harrowdale no road runs east or south; and you had best return as you came."
"Nay lady," said he, "I am not astray; for I walked in this land ere you were born to grace it. There is a road out of this valley, and that road I shall take. Tomorrow I shall ride by the Paths of the Dead."
I was stricken into silence. My very soul was chilled by the mention of that road and I knew that my face had blanched. I could not speak but the very thought of my lord Aragorn, whom I believed I loved, passing those paths stirred alarm for his safety.
"Is it then your errand to seek death? For that is all you will find on that road. They do not suffer the living to pass." I said inaudibly.
"They may suffer me to pass," said Aragorn and once more I saw the majesty of a thousand years of kingship revealed in him. "but at the least I will adventure it. No other road will serve."
"But this is madness," I exclaimed, losing all serenity. "For here are men of renown and prowess, whom you should not take into the shadows, but should lead to war, where men are needed. I beg you to remain and ride with my brother; for then all our hearts will be gladdened and our hope be the brighter."
"It is not madness, lady," he answered, "for I go on a path appointed. But those who follow me do so of their own free will; and if they wish now to remain and ride with the Rohirrim, they may do so. But I shall take the Paths of the Dead, alone, if needs be." I said no more and neither did he. We ate in silence but I could not shake from my mind the anxiety that was aroused. When the meal ended the men took my leave and retired. I resolved to speak to Aragorn and I came to him as he withdrew to the booth. He looked surprised to see me and I knew that in the night air my white dress shone brightly. I asked why he persisted in taking this deadly road.
"Because I must," he said, "Only so can I see any hope of doing my part in the war against Sauron. I do not choose paths of peril, Eowyn. Were I to go where my heart dwells, far in the North I would now be wandering in the fair valley of Rivendell."
I pondered the meaning of this and my mind ran over the fair maidens in Rivendell. Surely he meant no lady of elven kind? I assured myself that it was for other reasons that Rivendell was so congenial to him. I laid my hand on his arm. Muscled from years of hardship that I knew little of. I beseeched him to allow me to ride in his following, for if he is to seek death then so shall I and find peace from my current tribulations. All he spoke was of my duty. My duty is my bane, it holds me back from where my spirit would go. Eomer has freedom whilst I, a maid, am destined to linger behind when all menfolk have left.
"All your words are but to say: you are a woman and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death." I said proudly. All pride is in vain for I know the nature of his response and would fain he thought differently.
"What do you fear, lady," he asked.
All I could answer with was the true bane of my life. The cage I am bound to day by day, the bars that withhold me until I accept them in old age.
"And yet you counselled me not to adventure on the road that I had chosen, because it is perilous?" he said infuriatingly, he doesn't understand how I feel, how can he?
"So may one counsel another, yet I do not bid you flee from peril, but to ride to battle where your sword may win renown and victory. I would not see a thing that is high and excellent cast away needlessly." I said.
"Nor would I," he said, "Therefore I say to you lady stay! For you have no errand to the South."
"Neither have those others who go with thee. They go only because they would not be parted from thee- because they love thee." I turned and left adding silently, "and so do I."
My heart was set. I could not remain at home while battle and death in arms called me from afar. I could remain at home while my love, Aragorn rode to fear and uncertainty. I would girt myself with sword and beg again of his mercy to allow me to ride as a shield maiden that I am.
They are gone. They left early some mornings hence and rose away into shadow under the black Dwimorberg that ever haunts the view from the Golden Halls.
I came to them to bid farewell and witnessed the surprise upon their faces when I arrived clad as a rider.
"Farewell lady of Rohan!" Aragorn raised the cup I bore to his lips, "I drink to the fortunes of your House, and of you, and of all your people. Say to your brother: beyond the shadows may we meet again!"
I wept! I truly wept at their going, ashamed as I am and I begged him yet again to allow me to come, but no. I fell on my knees in last effort,
"I beg thee!"
"Nay, Lady." By his gentle hand I was raised and he kissed mine softly, such joy at that touch was overshadowed by the overbearing pain I felt as I clenched my fists. They rode away and he did not look back.
Why would he not love me? I am proud and strong and believe myself to be fair in the reckoning of men. I stumbled inside blinded by tears and reconciled only by the fact that I was not seen by my people, they hid themselves from "elvish wights" and did not perceive my distress.
Theoden and Eomer came late to Dunharrow an eve after Aragorn departed and with them the Rohirrim and their small esquire Meriadoc son of Saradoc of the Shire.
"Hail lord of the Mark!" I cried at their arrival. So glad was I at their return. I knew they were startled at my attire, clad as a warrior with helm and mail. They asked after my lord Aragorn and it took all my strength to stay my tears and prevent them from falling.
"You are grieved, daughter," said Theoden, "What has happened? Tell me, did he speak of that road?" He pointed to the darkling paths, "Of the Paths of the Dead?"
"Yes lord," I said, "And he has passed into shadow from which none have returned. I could not dissuade him, he is gone."
"Then our paths are sundered," said my brother, "He is lost. We must ride without him and our hope dwindles." His words did more to weighten my spirit. If only Aragorn had cleaved to my will he would have ridden valiantly to battle and won glory with his life not death. I showed them to their lodgings and they talked long of the Paths of the Dead. My mind grew ever grimmer as Theoden recounted the ancient legend of the path's end and the foolishness of Baldor son of Brego.
"Yet it is said in Harrowdale," I said, when the Dead men of the Dark years were brought up, "that in the moonless nights but little while ago a great host in strange array passed by. Whence they came none knew, as if they went to keep a tryst."
I spoke of how fey I thought Aragorn at his coming. Theoden attempted to lighten my mind by telling the tale of the wizened man speaking what may be called prophecies before the dreaded entrance. I knew the story for I had heard it many times and indeed it gave but small hope because I knew not of when the "time for its opening" should be. I hoped that Aragorn had brought that time and that he would return to me when his labours were achieved.
There came borne as if by a wearying wind, Hirgon, messenger of Gondor and he in turn bore the Red Arrow. It had come to this. The ancient alliance of Gondor and Rohan had come to be renewed and all our failing strength was needed to battle the Black Land. In Gondor the heaviest blow would fall, the messenger was engaged long in discourse and my only regret was that I should not be able to ride with the House of Eorl and fight for glory and honour. They prepared for a long time and the eored were ordered to pack light, assuring speed where it would be necessary. The Riders were marshalled and Theoden has given Meriadoc orders to remain at my side and serve me in his stead. He was distraught to be left and all too well do I know the bitterness of that feeling. He at least was allowed to ride to Meduseld with the King and I was allowed to carry out the one request lord Aragorn made of me - to array him in gear of war. This I have done,
"No mail had we to fit you," I told him after presenting a helm, shield and other gear. His size makes finding armour hard, though I would not have him die because of it. "Nor did we have any time for forging of such a hauberk; but here is also a stout jerkin of leather, a belt and a knife, a sword you have. Take all these things, and bear them to good fortune! Farewell Master Meriadoc! Yet maybe we shall meet again you and I." He bore the device of the white horse proudly and I knew that we should meet again sooner than expected. After I left him I bade farewell to Theoden and my brother. I pleaded them to let me come but nay, they knew not the strength of my resolve for I disguised myself as a man in helm and mail and rode secretly with the company. My heart trembled with excitement as I vied with the great Riders and left a servant of trust to govern the exiles of Edoras.
The day was dark and noon brought only gloom to the fair house of Meduseld. The company paused a while only to take a meal and to leave Meriadoc behind with the people there who would not leave. He begged as I once did to ride as well but refused as I ever was he resigned to stay.
"Where will wants not a way opens so we say." I whispered in his ear, for such a valiant heart should not be denied, that I know too well. "You wish to go whither the Lord of the Mark goes: I see it in your face,"
"I do," said the hobbit surprised.
"Then you shall go with me," I said, "I will bear you before me under my cloak until we are far afield, and this darkness is yet darker. Say no more to any man, but come." The look of joy my words induced was worth the encumbrance of a small halflings.
"Thank you indeed! Thank you, sir, though I do not know your name." he said surprising me in my turn for I thought he had guessed my identity.
"Do you not?" I replied, "Then call me Dernhelm."
My steed, Windfola, will bear us both for I am lighter than any rider and Meriadoc is barely as heavy as a child. Thus we were to ride to war in Gondor and I sought death in battle and renown as the White Lady of Rohan. We rode past the beacon hills, all their fires had died and rumours of roving orc bands and marching foes did much to worry the King. It was with heavy heart that we ignored these evils facing larger and more deadly perils on the road ahead. We have ridden far already and still further our road takes us. Days since Hirgon came to Meduseld had passed and still we had a journey far to go.
I spoke with Elfhelm the Marshall. He alone knows who I am and understands my desire to ride. He will not betray me for I commanded him to swear and he is a man true to his word. Still I conversed with nobody lest the truth be found and my secret brought to light. My burden grew weary of toil and desired to speak with a friend but verily I remained silent and he was forced to also. The King took counsel from the Wild Men of the Woods, I thought this to be risky in itself but Theoden accepted his aid and we rode by paths scarce trodden unto the Pelennor fields of Gondor. The messenger Hirgon's body was found on the way, his hewed head was nowhere to be seen but the Red Arrow shone vividly in his hand, stained ever deeper with his blood. Denethor knows not of our riding to his aid and we shall be unlooked for, this can only serve to weighten the spirits of Minas Tirith and give the enemy fresh vigour.
The city of the sun was burning. Flames licked the first circle and a mass of evil men and fell creatures blotted the fair fields that once grew so lush. The Rohirrim stared at it as one man. A fearful thought was sown in my mind that all would be lost and the honour of the House of Eorl would be quenched as we turned our backs on war. Yet Theoden remained ever unwithered and unafraid though foes were many times all we had here. The cry went up:
Arise! Arise! Riders of Theoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now! Ride now to Gondor!
With that the Horn of the Mark was blown and its echoes rang from the hills back to meet us. We galloped to the fields and to battle, the joy was unsurpassed and songs of war were sung by the riders with fell voices. I hewed, cleaved and fought as never has been seen before. Orcs fell headless before me as my sword shone in the evil light. Passion surged through my veins as I avenged every fallen rider, every wanton killing that these foul creatures had done. It was not only orcs that fell before my blade, the blood of evil swarthy men from Harad was also spilled by my hands. Joy I felt until the captain of the foul army descended from its winged steed. A shadow of terror, fear was the only weapon it needed yet a mace was wielded by its dreadful claws. The rank carrion bird on which it was mounted swooped down upon the army. Theoden called the riders to him,
"To me! To me!" he cried, "Up Eorlingas! Fear no darkness!" I began to hurry to his side but as I did so he fell. Snowmane his faithful horse had been smitten by a dart and beneath him lay my beloved lord whom I called father. A fey mood took me and I gave a shrill cry, the stinking fowl settled upon Snowmane and began to devour him as an act of defilement. This I could not stand but Windfola threw me from his back and cantered away, terror had taken him. I wept in grief and called,
"Be gone foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!" My voice was strong yet I was a woman again and it showed that.
"Come not between the Nazgul and its prey! Or he will slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the Houses of Lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye!"
I did not quiver though this terror was very great. I drew my sword and the sight of it reminded me of the trust Theoden had in me and how I had disobeyed him in his final hour. I couldn't stand it, I would avenge his death and hopefully find my own for I suffered guilt in that moment even though my lord was at peace and would have forgiven me if he could.
"Do what you will; but I will hinder it if I may."
"Hinder me?" the cold voice replied, "Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
In that moment the sense of irony that fell on me was almost amusing for this evil wraith knew not with whom he dealt and knew not the anger that welled within my soul for the slaying of my kin. I laughed aloud, the sound brought me coolness amid the fire of self doubt and I knew the time to reveal myself had arrived.
"But no living man am I!" I cried with relish, "You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead I will smite you, if you touch him."
A heart tearing scream issued from the beak of the unclean creature but the wraith was silent and the thought that he was in doubt crept into my mind. I freed my golden hair from its prison and it shone in the darkness, I raised my shield against the horror before me, fair and desperate was the device and so felt I. The beast was raised by its wings and fell on me. The stench was overpowering, I felt a deep revulsion and nausea racked my body. I hewed with all my might and strove to smite the bird as it struck me with claw and beak. It's head dropped and it's clawing stopped, my sword had sliced its neck asunder. I leapt away as it plunged at my feet. The sunrise cast an eerie golden light over the enemy and he rose from the wreckage, an embodiment of terror. His cry shafted my mind and I thought I would go mad with fear. I was roused by a strike of pain in my arm. The dreadful mace had hit me and the pain I felt was unbearable. My arm hung limp and my shield fell, I was defenceless before him and he raised his arm to strike again. I was going to die, I knew it, the mace would kill me as I stood and all would be lost but I refused to quail beneath him and I stood tall and proud as pain shot through me. Meriadoc, my burden, my hindrance stabbed deep within the unseen knee and I was saved. The mace went wide and the wraith fell before me as had his steed. My name was called by the hobbit who struggled to stand and I knew what I must do. I raised my sword and plunged it deep into the mighty helm. My fair sword broke as did my spirit and I fell and knew no more.
Dark dreams afflicted me. Fell creatures gnawed me in the darkness and I was never free from the life wrenching pain that held me captive. Voices came to me from shadows I heard uncouth tidings that Eomer was dead, Theoden was dead, the battle was lost and all were doomed to an eternity of torment. Despair clutched me and I was without hope, I wandered long in these thoughts though whither my mind went so did the dismay I felt. I cast my thoughts to Edoras but instead of the Golden Halls gleaming in the sunlight I saw a ravaged land, burned beyond recognition. I strayed to Meduseld in the hope it would give comfort in my plight yet all I found was dismay when I saw it fallen, my people failed, the Rohirrim dead, all hope faded. Darkness came to me and began to wholly consume me but in the distance I felt a breeze and with it came a fragrance so wholesome that my heart was somewhat lightened. I heard my voice called so quietly that it seemed barely a whisper of some forgotten time.
"Eowyn, Eomund's daughter awake! For your enemy has passed away!"
I breathed deeply lest the scent should fade and leave me stranded in fear but it grew stronger and a little warmth returned to my body.
"Awake Eowyn, Lady of Rohan!"
I followed the sound of the call and it became an image of my beloved brother Eomer! He wept with joy as I beheld him and I was delighted to find him alive.
"Eomer what joy is this? For they said that you were slain." I recalled my dreams and a shadow of fear passed across my brow, "Nay, but that was only the dark voices in my dream. How long have I been dreaming?"
"Not long my sister," he said, "But think no more of it!"
"I am strangely weary, I must rest a little," I replied, "But tell me what of the Lord of the Mark? Alas! Do not tell me that that was a dream; for I know that it was not. He is dead as he foresaw."
"He is dead," said my brother and although I already knew that, tears threatened to spill down my cheeks. "But he bade me say farewell to Eowyn, dearer than daughter. He lies now in great honour in the Citadel of Gondor." These words comforted me for Theoden and the House of Eorl had risen in honour far beyond my hopes, when I thought it had sunk further than any shepherd's cot. I asked of the halflings Meriadoc, for the whole battle returned to me and recognition of his bravery seemed to me to be important. I bade Eomer make him a knight of the Riddermark for his valour. Gandalf Greyhame told Eomer to remain with me as I woke to hope.
"To hope?" I said, "I do not know."
Then I lay quiet for weariness overcame me.
Few days after my waking the captains left. Eomer came to say farewell and I wept in his arms for I feared for his life. Their errand was one more deadly than I could scarce imagine for they were going to make a last stand in front of the Black Gates of Mordor and the Dark Lord himself should behold the fair standard of Gondor and maybe all would be ruined. Dark thoughts clutched at my soul again and I asked the ladies of the house to bring me raiment and sling and thus clad I went to the Warden to beg for release.
"Lady, you are not yet healed, I am commanded to tend you with especial care and I beg you to go back." he said.
"I am healed in body yet I shall sicken anew if I hear no tidings, these women tell me nothing." I replied.
"There are no tidings, save that the Lords have ridden to the Morgul Vale; and men say that the new captain out of the north is their chief. A great lord is that, and a healer; and it is a thing passing strange to me that the healing hand should also wield the sword. Though the world is full of enough hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them." the Warden said. His manner was infuriating, would he have the folk of Gondor gather herbs only while the Dark Lord gathered armies? I gazed out towards the shadow in the east and asked who commanded the city. I then bade them take me to him, Faramir, captain of Ithilien and Steward of Gondor who was himself a prisoner of the healers.
We walked towards him in the gardens and he was indeed fair of face though worn with pain and malady such as mine.
The Warden gave my name and told the Steward I was discontented with my keep. I could not bear to have him think me so ungrateful.
"Do not misunderstand him lord," I said quickly, "It is not lack of care that grieves me. No houses could be fairer , for those who desire to be healed. But I cannot lie in sloth, idle, caged. I looked for death in battle. But I have not died, and battle still goes on."
He asked what I would have him do and I looked deep within him and saw tenderness there, grave and gentle. I would have him see me as slender and terrible as a steel blade for I am bred among men of war and desire no man's pity.
"What do you wish?" he asked, "if it lies in my power I will do it."
I told him exactly what I wished, that I wished he would bid the Warden to let me go but even as I spoke I was in doubt. I still wanted nothing more than to leave but I did not want him to think me as a child with no firmness of mind and merely wayward.
"I am myself in the Warden's keeping. Nor have I yet taken up authority in the city. But had I done so, I should still listen to his counsel, and should not cross his will in the matters of his craft, unless in some great need." he answered.
"But I do not desire healing, I wish to ride to war like my brother Eomer or better like Theoden the King, for he died and has both honour and peace." I said.
He told me that it was too late to follow them should my strength even permit and that death in battle may come to us all whether we be willing or no.
"You and I," he said, "we must endure with patience the hours of waiting." He looked long at my face and I saw again that tenderness in his eyes. My heart faltered slightly and I was suddenly unsure whether I truly wished to die and leave lord Faramir's company so soon. I told myself softly that the healer's would have me lie abed seven days yet and my window is not eastward facing. I said this to maybe justify my former thoughts but he heard and said,
"That can be amended. In this I will command the Warden. If you will stay in this house in our care, lady, and take your rest, then you shall walk in this garden in the sun as you will; and you shall look east, whither all our hopes have gone. And here you shall find me, walking and waiting and also looking east. It would ease my care if you would walk at whiles with me." Again I looked at him and felt now a blush rise to my cheeks bringing colour to my complexion. I asked how I should ease his care and he answered plainly that I am beautiful. That he had seen no flower or maiden as lovely or so sorrowful as I. This only proved to deepen my colour and I thanked him for his kindness and withdrew to the house. I was long in thought and my mind strayed to Faramir in the garden and less frequently to Aragorn in Mordor.
Often I held Faramir to his word and walked with him, talking of hope and despair, shadow and light and sometime just in silence. On my fifth day from bed he sent for a blue, starry mantle and wrapped it about me. The look in his eyes told me it was of some great significance to him but what that may be I cannot guess. We spoke of the Black Gates which lay yonder and the shadow it brought to my mind was not to be borne so we stood in silence. We waited for some stroke of doom and I feared that a darkness unescapable lay before us, my hand met his and clasped it and I drew nearer as he spoke of Númenor and the wave that consumed it. He kissed my brow and we waited together for whatever was to come our way. A great eagle from the east came with tidings to the city. Better than we could ever have hoped from the lords of the west. The people of Gondor sang as the downfall of Sauron was recounted and all was fair.
Eomer begged me to come to the fields of Cormallen where there were to be great celebrations. I did not go for my heart was ever in the gardens of the houses of healing and with Faramir. He wondered at my staying and why I was the only person ailing and sorrowful. He sought me and asked why I did not go.
"Do you not know?" I asked for I knew at last and wished him to also.
He answered with a riddle and I bade him speak plainer.
"You do not go because only your brother called for you, and to look upon the Lord Aragorn, Elendil's heir, in his triumph would bring you no joy. Or because I do not go, and you desire still to be near me. And maybe for both these reasons, and you yourself cannot choose between them. Eowyn do you not love me or will you not?" I did not know, for still I had hoped for more than just Aragorn's esteem.
"I wished to be loved by another," I told him.
"That I know," he said and I was surprised for I did not know he knew that I loved Aragorn, "Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Eowyn." I looked, long in his eyes and he said not to scorn the pity that is gift of a gentle heart. His heart is gentle, I know it. He told me that he loved me, that he would love me were I the blissful queen of Gondor and that my beauty was beyond the words of elven-tongue to tell.
"Do you not love me?" His words were light yet heartfelt and I knew he was in earnest. My heart then changed and I loved him. I loved him for his goodness and kindness and no longer did I desire the love of Aragorn or to be queen.
"That is well, for I am not a king," he said laughing, "yet I will wed with the white lady of Rohan, if it be her will let us dwell in fair Ithilien for all things shall grow with joy there if the white lady comes."
"Then I am to leave my people, man of Gondor?" I asked though my heart was set to be with him, "Was there no woman of the race of Númenor to choose or would you have people think you tamed the wild shield maiden of the north?"
"I would," he said sincerely and he kissed me , though we were high and in the sight of many, I cared no longer and kissed him back, joyful in his arms. I was released from the houses of healing yet when it came to it I wished to stay and so I did until Eomer came, in a shining host towards the city, beautiful and terrible. The host came within the city and we welcomed them warmly with great celebrations and garlands of flowers and bright raiment.
The coronation of Aragorn brought joy to me, not pain as I feared. My beloved Faramir presented him with the crown and I was proud to see him so important a lord. We departed for Rohan as my brother and I laid wished to lay Theoden to rest. I did not weep as I thought I would because I knew he was at peace with his sires of old. A new mound was raised in his honour and Eomer has become Lord of the Mark. We gathered in the Golden Hall to feast and minstrels named all the lords of the Mark in order. Eomer drained the cup I bore to him and all others were filled and drunk in toast of hail:
"Hail Eomer, King of the Mark!" When the feast was closing my brother rose to announce my engagement.
"Hear then all my guests, fair folk of many realms, such as have never before been gathered in this hall! Faramir, Steward of Gondor and prince of Ithilien, asks that Eowyn, lady of Rohan should be his wife , and she grants it full willing. Therefore they shall be troth plighted before you all." I thought I should burst with bliss. Faramir and I stood forth and his hand was laid in mine, thus was the alliance of the two realms renewed. I asked Aragorn as my liege lord and healer to wish me joy and verily he did and called me the fairest thing in Rohan. I love him dearly but more do I love his steward for Faramir holds key to my heart.
I presented Master Meriadoc with the ancient horn of the Mark in token of his bravery.
"Farewell now, Meriadoc of the Shire and Holdwine of the Mark! Ride to good fortune and ride back soon to our welcome. This horn is an heirloom of our house, it was made by the dwarves and came from the hoard of Scatha the Worm. Eorl the Young brought it from the North. He that blows it at need shall set fear in the hearts of his enemies and joy to the hearts of his friends, and they shall hear him and come to him." He took the horn, for though he had refused any gift he could not decline this one. He kissed my hand politely and we embraced him and parted.
Faramir took me to dwell with him in Ithilien and we prepared for our wedding which was to take place next spring. Ithilien was indeed a very fair city and Faramir made my life as glad as I could never contrive without the love he gave me. Eomer frequently visits and I am closer to my brother now that we are apart for I am never a prisoner and delight in riding far across the beautiful plains with him. A shield maiden I am no longer and find happiness in healing others as I have been myself. I no longer wish for those things I once did and am happy now as I dwell within our house and take the title, White Lady of Ithilien, for that is what I am.