Lovelorn: Eowyn's Tale - Chapter 10

Author's Note: Ok, ok...I admit it...I've takeen too long to post this next part. But I have good reasons! Honest! Anywho...here it is...the next chapter in Lovelorn. In the last chapter, the battle at Helm's Deep had taken place, and the "good guys" had won. This is the continuation of the last chapter. Enjoy and as always, comments are welcome and appreciated!

***

Lovelorn: Eowyn's Tale
Chapter 10


She was warm and contented in her lover's strong embrace. She nuzzled deep into his soft tunic; it smelled of clear streams and deep wooded forests. His heart was like the steady rhythmic beat of time itself. Im melin le he whispered to her as he stroked her gloden locks. She smiled and looked up into his sparkling eyes; eyes that she could get lost in. He gingerly tilted her chin upwards with a finger, still holding her tightly. A small grin spread over his handsome face as he began to lean closer. Knowing what was about to happen, she closed her eyes and waited for their lips to touch. There was a moment of hesitation, then a spine-tingling sensation ran throught her body as their lips locked in a passionate, yet loving kiss. She felt her knees weakening, but his hold and caress kept her where she was.

Suddenly, as soon as it had started, it was over, and she found herself grasping nothing but a black void. Lady... Startled, she turned to where the voice had come from, and what she saw gladdened her heart. There was her knight in shining armor; complete with a sword in hand. He looked weary, but once he saw his fair maiden, his face brightened and a dazzling smile that never usually surfaced, appeared. She ran to him, her long gown fluttering like a myriad butterflies in flight. He dropped his sword with a clang and trotted toward her, arms outstretched. Flinging herself at him, he grasped her about her tiny waist and lifterd her into the air, swinging her in a wide arc before bringing her down and pulling her close. She looked upon his rugged face, so different then the latter, and buried her own into his bluky shoulder.

And, just as before, the man vanished, and she was left holding nothing. On the brink of tears, she glanced around this murky place for a sign of life, and found none. Fair one... She twirled around at the sound of a voice, but there was nothing. Looking hard, she could faintly see a wavering outline of a man, but he was so pale-looking...so ghost-like. She started to run to him, but was stopped short. Directly in front of her, looming like a devilish bird of some sort was a great black monster like none she had seen before. Atop its mantle stood a black shadow, a wicked crown atop its shapeless head.

As if some unseen power had taken over her, her mouth worked and from her throat came: "Do what you will, but I will hinder it, if I may."

The reply was a nasty, mocking hiss issuing forth from the shadow. "Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"

Realizing she was gripping something, she looked down to find a diamond-hilted sword grasped firmly in her hand. With a determined look on her face, she rushed toward the fell beast, raising the sword. With one well-placed swing, she incapacitated the creature, but to her dismay, the shadowed one descended upon her. Raising his mace, he swung and instinctively she blocked, relieved to find a shield strapped securly to her arm. The blow shattered the shield - and her arm - as white hot pain shot through her body. This is the end... she thought miserably, but before she blacked out, she heard the agonized shrieks of the shadow man as he passed through this world, and many others...

***

Eowyn sat straight up in bed, cold sweat poured down her face. Breathing hard and fast, she tried to calm down her rampaging heart. Swiveling, she touched her pillow and found that it was sweat-soaked. Suddenly there came an urgent knocking on her chamber door. It opened a crack and a startled-looking maid peered around the corner. "Lady? Are you alright?"

Eowyn looked at her, working her mouth and wishing for the words to come out. Finally she croaked, "I...I think so."

The maid, who Eowyn had known practically all her life, proceeded to open the door. She stepped in, then shut the door behind her before coming to sit on the edge of Eowyn's bed. "Milady, are you sure? We heard you screaming, so I came to check on you. Did you have a nightmare?"

"Yes," Eowyn managed to say. "I had a terrible nightmare; but that's all it was - just a nightmare." She sounded like she was trying to reassure herself more then the maid.

The maid seemed to realize what she was doing and took one of Eowyn's hands and held it in both of hers. "Yes milady, it was only a dream. Now, let me get you some warm water and you can wash and dress."

Eowyn smiled gratefully at the friendly maid. "That would be lovely," she replied.

The maid grinned and patted Eowyn's hand. She then promptly got up, brushed herself off, and slipped out of the room., leaving Eowyn to ponder the meaning of the disturbing dream.

***

After washing and changing into a plain off-white gown for the day, Eowyn asked a maid to strip her bed and then she ventured to the Dining Hall for a quick breakfast.

It had been three days since the victory of the Deep. Shortly after the victory, Theoden had ordered all women, children and wounded, along with a small group of unharmed soldiers, to return to Edoras. Of course, being the person she was, Eowyn had protested, but like always, her Uncle would have nothing of it; and so, as reluctant as ever, she was sent home with the travelling group. The group had arrived on the gentle slopes of Edoras late yesterday morn, and since their return, Eowyn, along with the many maids who had returned from the Deep, were the only ones occupying the Hall.

After a good breakfast, Eowyn returned to her room and collected her sword. It had been a few days since she had practiced, and now more than ever, she need the practice to take her thoughts from the dream.

Slipping into the practice court, she immediatly began the moves of the patterned dance that she knew how to do so well. The exercise quickly took her mind from the thoughts of the day, and within moments, sweat began pouring down her face and dripping into her eyes. She kept on with the dance though, and after a long and strenuous workout with her sword, she was ready for another bath and change of clothes.

Walking down the halls and coming to her room, she found that the maids of the Hall were already ahead of her. Three large kettles full of hot, steaming water sat next to her washbasin, and one of her favourite white gowns lay clean and pressed on her freshly-made bed. Eowyn shook her head and smiled, silently thanking the women that ran the Hall so thanklessly.

She washed vigerously, letting the warm liquid caress her sore muscles. After she had finished bathing, she slipped into the snowy-white gown with its long, flowy sleeves and goldtone belt and neck accents. The last time she had worn the dress, she had met Aragorn for the first time, and her Uncle had been realeased fron Saruman's cruel spell. She grinned inwardly as she rememberd that fateful day and hoped to soon see the men she loved so dearly again.

Not moments after she thought of the reunion, she heard a maid scurrying down the corridor to her chambers. There was a hurried knock on her door, and a red-faced maid peeked in and exclaimed breathlessly, "The Lord hath returned!"

Eowyn's blue eyes widened in surprise and she let out a joyus shout, making the maid grin impishly. "They now approach the Hall milady," she said. And with an added hint of approval she continued, saying: " and Lord Aragorn leads them."

Eowyn rushed over to the maid, and in her joy, hugged her tight. She then fled down the hall and ran until she found her way to the large doors that led to the outside garrison. There she stood, the gown flapping in the wind to see a large group of riders approaching the Hall. Her eyes began to fill with happy tears, but the breeze dried them and she smiled as they rode into Edoras.

Within moments, the group of men, with Theoden, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli at the head, converged on the steps of the Hall. Getting down off their horses, they looked upon the Golden Hall and were surprised to see Eowyn striding down the stairs to meet them. Coming off the last step in front of the group, she stopped short and stood, smiling at the group.

"Welcome home My Lord," she said, gesturing to Theoden. She walked up to him and took his hand, kneeling to kiss it gently. "I am so joyed to see that you are well," she continued.

Standing upright once more, she threw herself into his arms as he chuckled and embraced her back. She pulled away, and Theoden noticed how her gaze fell upon Aragorn and rested there for a moment. Just as quickly as he had noticed it, it left, and she was her normal self again. She addressed the company and then led them into the Hall.

Eowyn showed them into the large Dining Hall, and asked the maids to prepare a meal for the crowd. She then went back to the group and took a seat to her Uncle's left. She soon found that she was told all of the tidings that had passed since she had been sent back to the Hall.

During a lull in the conversation, she managed to say, "Lords, you are weary and should now go to your beds. Tomorrow fairer housing will be found for you."

Aragorn spoke: "Nay, Lady, be not troubled with us. We will stay here but tonight, for I ride on an errand very urgent with the first light of the morrow."

Eowyn smiled at him and said, "Then it was kindly done, Lord, to ride so many miles out of your way to bring tidings to me and speak to me in my exile."

"No man would count this journey wasted," he replied, chucking. "Yet, I could not have come here if it were not for the road that I must take to Dunharrow."

Eowyn looked at him puzzled. "Then, my Lord, you are astray, for no road runs south out of the Harrowdale, and you had best return the way you came." She looked as if she didn't like what he had said.

Aragorn shook his head and a certain weariness seemed to overtake his face. "Nay, Lady, I am not astray, for I walked this land before you were born to grace it. There is a road out of this valley that I will take. Tomorrow I will ride by the Paths of the Dead."

"But Aragorn!" she stammered, forgetting all formalities. "Is it your errand to seek death?" Eowyn blanched and turned as white as her gown. "That is all you will find; they do not suffer the living to pass."

"They will suffer me to pass, and I will adventure it. No other road will serve." he said.

Eowyn looked on the verge of tears. "This is madness! Here are men of renown and prowess who you will take into the shadows, but should be lead to war where they are needed. I beg you, remain and ride with my brother, for then all of your hearts will be gladdened, and our hope will be brighter."

"It is not maddness," he answered. "For I go on a path appointed. Those that follow me go of their own free will. If they wish to stay, they may do so, but I shall take the Paths of the Dead, alone if needs be." He looked at her sharply, as if telling her to stop.

Eowyn saw the look and bowed her head, trying to contain the tears and rid herself of the knot in her throat. The men and Lady ate the rest of their meal in silence, and at length they all rose and left the Lady, thanking her for her care. Each went on their own way, some to the court, some to the library to rest, and some to their chambers; but all could see that Eowyn was in great torment with her thoughts.

After the men had left, Eowyn got up and went to her chambers to think. She did not want to see Aragorn, let alone anyone else at the time. She sat there for many hours, thinking and rethinking both Aragorn's decision, and her own. Finally she came to a conclusion. Seeing that it had turned dark, she got up and left her room to find Aragorn.

As she began to venture down the hall where she thought he was resting, she saw a shadow and heard footsteps behind her. Turning, she found him walking toward her. She started toward him, but he converged on her first and grasped her arm, gesturing her to keep quiet and follow him. She did so and he led her into a deserted chamber. He quietly shut the door behind them, then turned to look upon her fair, but stubborn face.

She started first. "Aragorn, why will you go on this deadly road?"

"Because I must," he answered. "I do not choose the paths of peril, Eowyn. If I were to go where my heart dwells, I would now be wandering in the fair valley of Rivendell."

For awhile Eowyn was silent. His words had stung. His heart dwells in Rivendell...with the elf-woman who gave him the pendant. How can I win him if his heart will not allow me in? She looked upon him and laid her hand on his arm. "You are strong and resolute," she said, pausing. "Lord, if you must go, then let me ride with you. I am weary of sulking about in these hills; I wish to face peril and battle."

He took her hand and clasped it in his. "Your duty is with your people," he said, sorrow on his face.

She jerked her hand back, and a fire seemed to balze in her eyes. "Too often have I heard of duty! Am I not of the House of Eorl, a shieldmaiden and not a dry-nurse? I have waited on faltering feet long enough!"

'Few may do that with honour," he said. "Did you not accept the charge to govern the people until your Lord's return?"

"Must I always be chosen?" she replied bitterly. "Shall I always be left behind when the rider's depart? To mind the house while they win renown?"

"A time may come soon," she said quietly; "when none will return. Then there will be a need of valour without renown."

Eowyn looked at him and aswered, "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 may as well be burned in the house as no man will need it anymore. I am of the House of Eorl, not a serving-woman! I can ride and weild blade, and I do not fear either pain or death!"

"What do you fear, Lady?" he asked softly.

Eowyn paused, remembering the day before they had left for the Deep; he had asked her the same question. She crossed her arms across her chest adn replied, "A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone byond recall or desire."

Aragorn sighed and came to stand before her, his hands palm-up in a gesture of reluctance. "And yet you counselled me not to adventure on the road that I had chosen, because it is perilous?"

"So may one counsel another," she said mockingly. "I bid you not flee from peril, but to ride to battle where your sword may win renown and victory. I wish not to see a thing that is so high and excellent cast away so needlessly."

"Nor would I," he said to her, laying his hands on her shoulders as she turned her head to look away from him. "That is why I say to you, Lady: Stay! You have no errand with the South!"

She turned to look directly into his eyes, tears already filling her own. "Neither have those that go with you. They go only because they would not be parted from you - because they love you!"

She then pulled away from him and ran past him, pulling the door open and rushing outside.

She fled from the room and down the hall until she tripped from exhaustion and fell hard to the cold stone floor. She pushed herself up from the stone and stayed kneeling, sobbing wretchedly.

She did not hear the footsteps until they were upon her. A gentle hand was laid on her shaking shoulder, and when she turned to look up, Legolas was there. He knelt down beside her and pulled her into a tight embrace, letting her cry into his shoulder until late into the night.

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