Eowel stared at Rowa. Meet the royalty of Gondor? How could she? She had promised herself she would never talk to Aragorn or his son. But with Rowa smiling at her, all she could say was:
She followed the soldier through the gates of the magnificent city. The people looked at her curiously, wondering what a foreigner was doing in their humble home.
Then Eowel remembered something she wanted to ask Rowa.
“Did you take my pack?”
“Oh, that was yours?” Rowa exclaimed. “I didn’t know! I am terribly sorry.” He reached inside his own pack and pulled out a smaller one, handing it to Eowel.
“It’s all right,” Eowel said. “I was just worried an orc was in my hiding place while I was asleep.”
Eowel steered Lorel around some Gondorians who were standing in the middle of the road, gossiping. She was almost certain one of them glanced at her to make sure she wasn’t listening.
“Are you sure it’s okay that I’m here?” she asked, turning to Rowa. “I don’t think the citizens like me.”
“No, you’re welcome here, don’t worry,” said Rowa. “The citizens just like to gossip. Now, look up there.” He pointed up a tall cliff. Eowel could see a beautiful tree sitting outside of a castle.
“Is that the White Tree of Gondor?” Eowel asked.
“Yes, and that is Aragorn’s castle,” said Rowa. “We’ll be up there very soon.”
Eowel gulped at the thought of meeting Aragorn and Arathor. Even though she had never met them, she already loathed them. Would the king bring up the marriage of Eowel and his own son?
“How old is Arathor?” Eowel asked.
“He has just turned seventeen,” Rowa said. “I have heard something of him being married very soon to some lovely lady.”
Eowel frowned. She knew who that ‘lovely lady’ was. I should be glad there was no betrothal, she thought.
Rowa looked up at the large castle looming ahead of him.
“This is it,” he said. “Now let us go inside.”
Eowel dismounted from Lorel and handed his reins over to one of the soldiers who was staying outside. Then she turned to face Rowa, who was taking off his battle helmet.
“Ready?” he said to the girl, who nodded reluctantly.
The castle was beautiful inside. Large pillars lined the walls, and a throne was placed at the very end of the room. There were many doorways leading off to other parts of the castle. And on the throne was none other than-
“King Aragorn,” said Rowa, falling into a deep bow as he reached the throne. “I bring you this young lady-“
“Eowel of Rohan!” exclaimed the king. “Your mother has told me so much about you. You look almost exactly like her…” His voice trailed off as another person walked into the room.
“Arathor…” Eowel whispered under her breath. The boy was handsome, his hair scraggly like his father’s. He was tall, with strong muscles, and his eyes were dark brown.
“Eowel, this is my son, Arathor,” said the king.
“Ah, so this is Eowel?” asked Arathor. “I have been eager to meet you.” He held out a hand. Eowel shook it firmly.
“Glad to meet you,” she said through half-clenched teeth. She was angry at herself that she ever ‘hated’ Arathor.
“What brings you to Gondor?” Aragorn asked. “And without your parents!”
“I… decided to go on a journey,” Eowel said, thinking quickly. She didn’t want them to know she was running away because she didn’t want to marry Arathor. “And I just happened to come across Rowa here-“
“Yes, and she explained that an orc had attacked her,” Rowa said, budging into the conversation.
“Yes, that too,” said Eowel. “I was fully armed, but not ready to fight. I think I need training.”
“And that’s what Arathor can help you with,” said Aragorn. Eowel noticed the king’s son blushing.
“My father taught me,” said Arathor. “I’m sure I could pass on a little of my knowledge…”
“Of course you can!” said Aragorn. “How long are you going to be staying here in Gondor?”
“I’m not sure,” said Eowel.
“Then we can start your training as soon as possible,” said Aragorn. “Rowa, take her to the guest room, and send some servants up. Eowel, please get ready. The servants will bring some clothes for you to change into. Arathorn, go to the armoury and get every kind of weapon. Bring them to the training fields.”
“And what of Lady Eowel’s horse, Lorel?” Rowa asked.
“After you bring the servants to her, please bring the horse to the stables.”
Rowa and Arathor nodded and walked away.
“Thank you,” Eowel said. “I really appreciate this.”
“It is nothing, really,” said Aragorn. “I will send a message to your parents to tell them you are safe.”