THE ROAD TO MINAS TIRITH
The trip to Gondor lasted three days and four nights. Miriel pushed Kaspir hard in her eagerness to reach the White City. They stopped only to eat or sleep and spoke little. The weather was perfect for such a journey, for the storm was gone and the sun smiled down on them.
At last, at dawn on the forth morning, they were standing on a hill overlooking Minas Tirith standing seven tiers tall in all its glory. Miriel and Rolande paused to gaze upon the breathtaking city. Each level was delved into the hillside, and the whole city gleamed white in the sun. Even from that distance they could see damage and ruin among the lovely carved towers, and here and there dark holes and empty spaces gaped like missing teeth where entire buildings had collapsed.
Directly below them, between where they stood and Minas Tirith, lay the Pelennor Fields, now a blackened and barren wasteland littered with broken swords, splintered spears and shattered shields. Shreds of dirty cloth and tattered standards blew dismally in the wind.
As Miriel and Rolande rode upon the deserted field, they saw plenty of evidence of the terrible battle. New graves had been dug, and still the field was not clear of debris and shards of metal, and the scorched earth was stained dark with blood. The very air stank with the foul scent of Orcs and other evil creatures and hung heavy with a black cloud of death.
They walked slowly through the Pelennor Fields, and Miriel’s heart sank heavily with sorrow as she looked about, knowing the great number of good men that fell that awful day in the defense of not only Gondor, but all of Middle-earth. She passed one grave that was green with a fuzz of new grass already, and leaning closer she beheld a stone bearing an inscription at its head. Miriel was seized with curiosity, and she halted Kaspir and slid to the ground to read it.
“Faithful servant yet master’s bane,
Lightfoot’s foal, swift Snowmane.”
Miriel gasped as she stretched out her hand and tentatively brushed her fingers over the letters on the rock carved in the tongues of Gondor and of the Mark. Behind her Rolande sat, staring at her in amazement.
“You can read?” he breathed, his brown eyes fixed with wonder.
Miriel ignored him.
“This is the grave of a horse that fell in the battle,” Miriel murmured to herself. “Snowmane. That was the name of King Theoden’s horse. Snowmane died here.”
She stood up and looked around her at the empty battlefield through tear-clouded eyes. Rolande sat silent upon his gray horse, his observation already forgotten.
“This is the place King Theoden died,” she said in a quavering voice. “Snowmane was his master’s bane. Perhaps they were suddenly attacked and the horse rolled upon his rider even in his death agony…”
Miriel’s words trailed off and her chin trembled as she looked around her and beheld visions of the battle not long past, but she mastered herself with an effort. She gazed hard at the land beneath her feet.
“Somewhere near here the Lady Eowyn fell also,” Miriel added. “She was taken to the Houses of Healing, stricken and wounded. Perhaps she is-“
Miriel gave a short cry of dismay and ran toward her horse. She leapt upon Kaspir and sent him flying toward Minas Tirith at full gallop. Rolande shouted her name and charged after her.
As they neared the great city, Miriel looked up at the walls and battlements and saw them decorated with fair banners that fluttered gaily in the wind. She could see people moving about, and they seemed neither weary nor sorrowful, even as they passed to and fro before the broken gate to the entrance of the city. Miriel stared in confusion. Celebration and destruction did not usually go hand in hand. She pulled her horse to an uncertain halt and stood there on her snorting black stallion as if she were unsure of what to do.
Suddenly a great shout broke from one of the high walls.
“Lady Miriel! Lady Miriel!”
“Legolas!” Miriel cried out joyously, recognizing the voice at once. But although she searched the whole of Minas Tirith with her eyes and looked upon every inch of the vast walls, she could not see the fair Elf anywhere.
“Legolas!” Miriel called again, spurring Kaspir forward to greater speed. As she neared the ruined gate, a figure clad all in white as an Elven prince appeared among the wreckage.
With a single breathless shriek Miriel leapt from the back of her horse and flew straight into the waiting arms of Legolas. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks, but she laughed as she cried. Legolas stroked her dark hair and tenderly kissed her brow as he held her tightly.
“You’re safe, you’re safe,” Miriel said over and over again. They stood there at the broken gate of the White City, and the winds that swirled around them carried away their endless whispers. Their loving words were lost in the mists of time, but those that beheld the reunion of the Warrior Princess of Rohan and the Elven Prince of Mirkwood felt their hearts gladden at the sight. Rolande could not help but smile even as he averted his eyes and turned away, still smitten by a bitter hurt that none could mend.
Finally Miriel remembered Rolande and she went back to call her horse, who by now was wandering freely and grazing on the plain. Rolande was surprised to see that Miriel fairly glowed with an inner light that blazed forth especially in her silver-gray eyes. Miriel led her horse to the gate herself, but Rolande dismounted and bowed low before her as he took Kaspir’s reins.
“My lady,” he murmured in a quiet voice full of a strange respect and awe that Miriel had never heard him use before. “Allow me to house the horses myself. You have far more important matters to attend to,” he added with a wry grin as he glanced pointedly at Legolas, who was waiting nearby.
Miriel was clearly surprised and pleased.
“Thank you, Rolande,” she answered. She laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“I think I do,” answered Rolande steadily with deep feeling. “For the first time, I understand.”
Miriel paused a moment and gave Rolande a quick smile before she ran to Legolas.
Rolande watched as the two slowly walked off, hand in hand, peaceful in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Minas Tirith. It seemed to Rolande that the sun shone down on only the Princess and the Elf, filling the air about the two lovers with a soft glow as they spoke quietly together.
At last Rolande turned and headed for the stables, leading the horses behind him. His heart was heavy, but an unbidden grin was on his face as he went.
********* And! Coming soon! The first book in the Aezon series: For The Love of Galadar, A romance/drama in the tradition of JRR Tolkien, available as an ebook on www(dot)talesofmiddleearth(dot)com. MRC:
If you’re in a great hurry to know what happens next, you don’t have to wait. The entire 30-chapter ebook entitled Miriel: Princess of Rohan can be downloaded at www(dot)talesofmiddleearth(dot)com.
REPLIES TO REVIEWERS:
And! Coming soon! The first book in the Aezon series: For The Love of Galadar, A romance/drama in the tradition of JRR Tolkien, available as an ebook on www(dot)talesofmiddleearth(dot)com.
MRC:Miriel is suffering from war trauma, losing her whole family at one blow so suddenly, and she’s bound to do a few crazy things. She is DEFINITELY crazy. Any rational person would realize that even if she were able to arrive in Gondor before the battle was over (it’s a six-day trip, and that’s if you’re riding a Mearas!), she would be too exhausted to affect the outcome of the battle. Even if she were rested and fit by the time she arrived, there isn’t much a single maiden can do against the entire nation of Mordor. Don’t tell her I said so, but maybe the whole Helm’s Deep thing went to her head? But she’s still reeling from losing everybody she once held dear, and the mere thought of losing Legolas caused her to snap.
Nawyn: ROTFL! Explaining her actions to Eomer and Eowyn would have been a boatload of fun! I’ll keep that in mind in case I decide to revise Miriel at some future date. The drama between Legolas and Rolande is far from over…
Geekchick: Irresponsible, yes. Would we do it in her place, absolutely. Let’s think for a moment: Rohan, or Legolas? Rohan, or Legolas? Rohan, or… hm!
Miriel isn’t used to being personally responsible for an entire country, and she doesn’t know what she’s doing. That, combined with panic, caused her to drop the whole princess thing like a hot potato and rush off to follow her heart. At least Rolande had the sense to establish a chain of command in their absence so that the whole of Rohan doesn’t fall apart while the princess goes galavanting around war-torn Middle-earth, looking for an Elf. She has a lot to learn before she becomes the kind of leader minstrels make songs about.
Lalaith-Elerrina: OH NO!! Another Rolande fan! I’ll have to put up a website just for him! I hope you like what happens later, but I have a bad feeling it won’t be quite satisfactory compared to, say, your Elrohir/Calasse storyline. So I think I’ll get busy digging a shelter of some kind… Then again, you may absolutely love it, so it will be a shallow shelter. Actually, I can’t wait to find out what you think of it.
A/N: My deepest thanks to everyone who is following this story and has taken the time to review. I apologize for how far apart these updates are, and I’ll do my best to mend this sorry state of affairs. Also, to make up for the shortness of the last three chapters, Chapter 14 (Tales in the Citadel) is about twenty pages long! After that, we reach the halfway point – and a whole new series of adventures and mishaps begins. This is a canon tale, again, and Legolas does sail off to Valinor with Gimli 122 years after the War of the Ring time period. So… how does Miriel fit into Tolkien’s story, being utterly forgotten by the whole of Rohan before the end?
I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Chapter One: A QUIET EVENING
Chapter Two: RED SUNSET
Chapter Three: THE GLITTERING CAVES OF AGLAROND
Chapter Four: THE BATTLE OF HELM’S DEEP
Chapter Five: FATE’S ARROW
Chapter Six: LEGOLAS
Chapter Seven: ON THE CAUSEWAY
Chapter Eight: A RING AND A PROMISE
Chapter Nine: ROLANDE
Chapter Ten: TROUBLED HEARTS
Chapter Eleven: THE PELENNOR FIELDS
Chapter Twelve: THREE DAYS OF DARKNESS