I did like it at Édoras. Life was easy. Indeed it was so easy I felt as if I was not a servant. Eowyn rarely made me do any work, besides help her practise her sword fighting and to go riding with her. Two weeks after I arrived at Édoras, she began to teach me the basics of sword fighting, a skill I did not pick up with ease.
“No, Elína!” She shouted over the din in the practice courts one day, as I missed blocking her sword yet another time. Eowyn rested the point of her blade on the ground. “You have to intercept my sword with yours.” She explained patiently as I examined the shoulder that had been injured by her dulled practice sword.
“Do you have to swing so quickly, Eowyn.” I complained, “If I cannot see where the sword will hit how will I learn to block it?”
Eowyn sighed. “Do you think a real enemy will slow down so you can block their sword?” she asked me.
“No,” I replied sullenly, Eowyn was so much better with her sword than I was with mine, “but who will I ever be fighting against? There is no `real enemy’ here at Édoras, no soldiers invading the city, no orcs swarming the place.”
“Those without swords can still die upon them.” Eowyn said, “You never know what might happen.” Eowyn’s eyes flashed with longing.
“Do you want something to happen?” I asked Eowyn incredulously. There had been no mistaking the look in her eyes.
“No.” She replied automatically. I waited for a few seconds, “Fine,” she said exasperated, “I don’t a war, or anyone to get hurt, but don’t you ever get tired of the same dull life here?” she stretched out her arms to take in the room around us, “I wish I was allowed to go with Eomer and Theodred.” She sighed.
“Why aren’t you allowed to go with them?” I asked, grateful for the break from the sword fighting.
“My uncle, Théoden, won’t let me.” Eowyn replied disheartened. I was surprised at that. Théoden was a kind man and very indulgent, or so he seemed to me. He was fun loving most of the time, but serious and kingly when he needed to be. During my few weeks at Edoras, I had adopted him as one of the only father figures in my life.
“Why not?” I inquired confused.
“Because they all say it is not my place, riding out into battle. I have to stay home.” She said bitterly. I didn’t bother to console her. I could never understand Eowyn’s lust for battle. Maybe it was because Eowyn was a fighter and I wasn’t for whatever reason. Nevertheless, it was something she desired for as long as I knew her, the freedom to fight and protect people.
Despite our differences we became quite close. She was extremely kind to me and eventually became my best friend. Amérgin kept to his word and often visited me, as well as Theodred and Eomer. The three of them were good friends of ours, though I sensed that Amérgin and I were very good friends. Amérgin and I would often take walks around the city together, ride our horses together or just talk to each other all afternoon.
One of these afternoons will always stand out in my mind. It was late in the afternoon, one warm spring day, when Amérgin pulled me out of the stables, where I had been grooming Eowyn’s horse.
“Where are you taking me?” I demanded crossly, “I still have to groom Eowyn’s horse.”
“To relax, and I think that horse is groomed enough, any more and it won’t be able to move.” He retorted as he pulled me out of the city. I followed meekly, happy to have a break from work and happy to be with him. He led me to a clearing in the dry grass, on top of a hill.
“What now…” I muttered quietly, however; Amérgin overheard my comment.
“I told you. You are going to take a break.” He replied and let go of my arm.
“What if I don’t want to take a break?” I said coquettishly, my hands on my hips.
“Well it seems like your already on one, so…” He sat down and motioned for me to join him.
“You’ll have to catch me first.” I shouted as I turned and ran, not towards the city but in a direction parallel to it. I heard him curse quickly as he hopped to his feet and chased after me. Even though I had been one of the fastest girls in my village, he was much faster and quickly caught up to me. He tackled me and both fell on to the grass and tumbled down a hill laughing. We stayed that way, basking in the afternoon sun and talking, till it was almost nightfall.
Like many girls, when I was younger I had my own vision of who I would fall in love with and how we would end up. All these fantasies were impossible and idealistic. Real life is nothing like dreams, it is better. I knew that day on the hilltop who I loved, Amérgin.
The day he asked me to marry him, it was in the soldier’s mess hall. It was late at night and it was crowded and not too romantic, but it suited me just fine. He had no ring to promise his love, just a crown of flowers stolen from someone’s gardens that was braided into a coronet by clumsy fingers. Amérgin turned to me and asked me the question I would remember for the rest of my life.
“Elína,” He began, “I want to ask you something.”
“Yes.” I murmured back, only half concentrating on what he was saying.
“Will you be my wife?” He whispered. The men around us turned to stare.
“What?!” I said back, “Are you serious? It is not a jest?” I felt the familiar fluttering sensation in my stomach.
“About this? No, of course not.” He replied. The room had gotten somewhat silent, it seemed like everyone was waiting for my answer. I never knew how the others had heard us, we had spoken very quietly.
“Yes! Of course!” I replied and jumped to my feet in excitement. I scarcely believed that he had asked that question, it seemed unreal.
“Really?” He asked and stood up as well.
“Yes!” I shouted and embraced him. He raised me off my feet as everyone one around us clapped and whistled and cheered. He lifted up from behind him a crown of flowers, hastily braided together, and placed it on my head. To my surprise I was crying out of happiness, something I had never done before in my life.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.