“I know not if Lords Eomer and Eothain survived…”
The words assaulted Rhianan, raining down upon her like enemy arrows. Her legs threatned to give way. Her head swam. Yet her steely sense of self control took over. She
immediately began searching for her sister, Ilora.
With the pronouncement of the possible deaths of Eomer and Eothain, a great commotion arose within the Hall. The
bringer of the news, Conal, was taken away. King Theoden
began speaking heatedly with his son, Theodred.
Rhianan noted Grima, counselor of the King, offering solace
None of this made an impression on Rhianan, however. She
pushed her way through the throng of people, desperately
seeking Ilora. When at last she sighted her twin, she hurried to her.
“Oh Rhianan…” Ilora whispered in a choked voice. Her eyes
glistened with tears.
Rhianan took Ilora’s hand and led her away to her chambers. They would be better off there than in the Great Hall which pulsed with tension.
Moments later, Rhianan closed the chamber door behind them.
Ilora, looking pale, sank into a chair. “What are we to do?”
Rhianan went to her and knelt beside her. “We are going to
wait. They may yet return.”
A sob caught in Ilora’s throat as the tears brimmed over and
ran down her cheeks.
Rhianan took Ilora into her arms, much as one takes a small child, and held her tightly.
What indeed are we to do? What indeed? she thought
* * * *
Later that night, Rhianan stood outside on her bedroom
terrace. Dressed only in a simple sheath gown, she shivered
as the cold air bit into her skin. She considered stepping back into her chamber to retrieve a shawl, but did not do so.
She felt unable to move, weighted to the spot where she stood. Yes, she had been strong for her sister. Now, however,
she was alone and her defenses were crumbling.
Rhianan gazed up into the night sky, lit only by millions of glittering stars. She wondered, briefly, if Eothain or Eomer were watching the same stars as she.
“If yet you still linger in this world.” At her words something
broke deep within her. “Have I lost both my brother and Eomer?” Rhianan whispered. “Don’t do this to me! Don’t leave me here!” she cried.
At last she gave herself over to her grief. At last she let the tears come.
* * * *
The next two days passed rapidly. Theodred urged the King to send out a search party. Grima countered that, asking if he wished to lose more men. It was clear the King was torn.
Rhianan watched often the debates. She would stand within the shadows of the Hall, beside her Eowyn. Rhianan could see
anger written on Eowyn’s features whenever Grima spoke. His
words were cunning, truly. Rhianan wondered if he was to be
trusted. Many spoke ill of Theoden’s counselor, and obviously
Eowyn shunned him. It was true, the King seemed to rely
heavily on Grima; perhaps too much so.
After a time on the second day of the debating, Eowyn grew
restless and departed from the Golden Hall. Rhianan followed
“Will you walk with me?” Eowyn asked.
Rhianan nodded, falling into step with her.
They had not gone far when Eowyn turned her piercing gaze
to Rhianan. “How long will he lead my uncle in repetious debates? I can do nothing! Theodred does what he can, but he is no match for Grima’s sly words….” she trailed off, her voice betraying her weariness.
Rhianan’s heart ached for Eowyn. She was so worn, so very old for one so young.
“He has earned himself the name of Wormtongue among many in the Court,” Eowyn continued. “And well deserved it is!”
Silence ensued. It was heavy, laden with the bitterness in
the Lady’s words.
“You will forgive me,” she said abruptly. “You are burdened as it is.” Before Rhianan could respond, Eowyn turned and
disappeared down another corridor.
* * * *
Moonlight filtered into Rhianan’s chamber. She lay on her bed, though she was far from sleep. Thoughts raced through her mind, allowing her no rest.
She was pondering Eowyn’s assesment of Grima when she heard clattering in the courtyard far below her window.
Curiosity prompted her to look. Peering down from above,
she had a good view of the courtyard. What she saw made her catch.
Snatching up a shawl, she threw it about her shoulders and raced barefoot out of her room.
Rhianan realized she was running when she collided with one of the palace guards. She mumbled apologies before
going out the door into the courtyard.
Eomer, Eothain, and six other men stood there, having just
She ran to them, breathless and her heart pounding.
Eothain turned when he heard her coming. “Sister!”
She threw herself into his arms, burying her face against his
chest. She was barely aware of the others who had heard the Riders and were now rushing into the courtyard.
At last Eothain released her, only to sweep Ilora, now present, into his embrace.
Rhianan turned and her heart stopped as she saw Eomer
approach. He looked down at her before pulling her to him-
self. He held her tightly for a moment, then let her go and went to seek out Eowyn.
Rhianan stood still and watched as Eomer pushed through the crowd, hurrying toward his sister. The Lady of Rohan stood on the steps leading down into the courtyard. She had only just come out, but she had seen Eomer embrace Rhianan. Her gaze rested on Rhianan. Her expression was
unreadable and from the distance that separted them,
Rhianan was unable to see what emotion might be betrayed
in her dark eyes.
As Eomer reached Eowyn, a rare smile brightened her face.
Rhianan turned away, focusing her attention on Eothain instead. He appeared unharmed, to her relief.
They did not have much time to speak before the Rohirrim and their families were called into the Great Hall. King
Theoden awaited them, welcoming them home. Theodred
was there also, beside his father.
Food was soon brought, and then the musicians were called
forth, late though it was.
Rhianan knew there would be no rest that night, She sat be-
side Eothain, Ilora on his other side. Eowyn and Theodred
sat with Eomer. The Hall seemed suddenly filled with an air of revelry, triumphant and boisterious. The minstrels played
music that added to the feeling; it was quick and giddy, suit-
ed for dancing. Mugs of hot cider were passed out, nearly brimming over.
Sometime later, the King called upon Eomer to give an account of the things that had transpired since the eored had departed Edoras.
Eomer did so, describing how the Rohirrim were ambushed at night. Their attackers were Easterlings, allied with a number
of Orcs. The eored has fought valiantly, but they lost many good men. Eomer and Eothain, with the six others, had escaped. If there were other survivors, it was not known.
Thus the joyous atmosphere was quickly lost. Eomer’s words
were grim and forboding, seeming to foretell of dark horizons
looming in the future.
The remainder of the night was spent in Meduseld, yet it never regained its light hearted feel.
When the dawn came, Rhianan slipped out of the Hall. She stood outside, watching the sun rise. It was reminscent of the
evening the news had come of the attack on Eomer’s eored,
she mused. She had stood in the same place, watching the sun set. Yet now it rises,” she thought. It should be
symbolic of our renewed hope , since our greatest warriors have returned to us….but it is not so..” Eomer’s dark words still weighed heavy on her mind.
A soft rustle broke into her thoughts. Rhianan turned to see
Eomer standing next to her.
“My lady,” he said softly.
“Lord,” she ducked her head, remembering she still wore only her night clothes. A blush climbed up her neck onto her cheeks.
If he noticed, he gave no indication of it. When he said
nothing more, Rhianan spoke. “We are much relieved to have you among us again.”
Eomer looked down at her, studying her face. A shadow
crossed his features, but vanished as quickly as it had come.
He smiled slightly. “I think you missed us.” Humor danced in his eyes.
Rhianan was surprised by his jesting, but she laughed lightly.
“I fear we will likely leave again…soon,” Eomer said.
Rhianan felt all humor leave her. “But surely you need rest.”
She cringed, realizing her words were pleading.
He was silent, and the shadow crept back onto his face. “Evil
is at work in the land. The border villages are attacked more and more often.” He glanced at her. “Rhianan, the clouds of war are gathering. No, we will not have any rest. If we do not fight, we will fall.” He paused, speaking his next words hesitantly. “The Land of Shadow has awaken.”
To Be Continued