At last Legolas took Miriel down from the Citadel and led her to the Houses of Healing. Eowyn was standing by a window looking more radiant than Miriel had ever seen her. When they entered her room, Eowyn turned in surprise and a broad smile lit her face.
“Miriel! My sister!” she cried, and the women rushed toward each other. Legolas bowed and left them alone.
Their reunion was long and joyful, and after a while they sat upon some chairs near the window to talk.
“You look wonderful,” Miriel declared.
“What do you mean?” inquired Eowyn, smiling.
“You seem less like winter than before. You’re blooming with color and radiance. It’s almost as if the seasons changed and you’ve become a spring maiden rather than an ice queen.”
“That is a good way to describe what has happened to me,” Eowyn replied thoughtfully.
“Are you still in pain?” wondered Miriel.
“Not so much anymore,” answered Eowyn, looking down at her arm. “I am nearly completely healed. But let me give you a bit of advice: If you get it into your head to fight the Lord of the Nazgul, bring a stronger shield.”
“What madness possessed you to ride to war?” asked Miriel.
“You should talk,” said Eowyn with a wry sidelong glance at Miriel. “It was you who first gave me the idea. I wanted to be out fighting in Helm’s Deep since day one, but the King ordered me to stay in the caves with the people. He never admitted it, but he didn’t want me to get hurt, and I knew it.
“But of course I was furious, for just because I was a woman I was to hide from the battle while men fought and died for us. It was cowardly, and I detested it. If I had been born a man, I would have been beside them defending the wall, risking my life along with all of the other soldiers. Yet I meekly obeyed the order, for I loved Theoden King as my own father, and I had no wish to disobey him.”
“But you disobeyed him anyway, in the end,” Miriel reminded her.
Eowyn was sober as she looked at Miriel.
“In truth, I was jealous of you, Miriel,” Eowyn confessed. “I didn’t have the courage to defy my uncle’s orders at Helm’s Deep. After I learned of your deeds at Helm’s Deep when the day was over, my resolve hardened. They would not leave me behind ever again while the men rode to war, I told myself. I knew I would probably not make much of a difference in the fight, but I had to go anyway. Later on, my heart carried a secret weight, and I did not care to live. I went seeking death on the battlefield of Cormallen, but I did not find it.”
“You look almost better now than you did before you were injured in battle,” commented Miriel as she watched Eowyn speak.
Eowyn smiled brightly, and Miriel again marveled at the obvious change that had come over her.
“I am indeed better than ever,” Eowyn replied. “For I have been healed of not one hurt, but two. The second pain ran far deeper than the first.”
“How were you wounded?” asked Miriel.
“I was defending King Theoden against the Lord of the Nazgul,” Miriel answered, a shadow passing briefly over her face at the memory. “I killed the Nazgul, but he broke my arm and an evil fever came over me. At least I got to see King Theoden one last time as he lay on the battlefield, and I spoke to him in his final hour,” she added wistfully. “That alone was worth the risk of riding to war. I was there when he gave his sword to Eomer and named my brother as his heir.”
Heavy silence settled over them, but Miriel would not allow it to remain quiet for long and changed the subject.
“Tell me, what was the other pain you spoke of?”
“One that could only be cured by love,” answered Eowyn, her face alight.
“You’re in love?” Miriel cried, and her mind raced. “With- the Lord Aragorn?”
Eowyn looked shocked. Then she blushed and laughed merrily.
“No, Miriel, not Lord Aragorn,” she replied with a smile. “I thought I loved him, but it was only a shadow and a thought that I admired and mistook for love. Lord Aragorn himself told me this, and I did not believe him and was deeply hurt by his words. Part of the reason I sought death with such complete reckless abandon was because Lord Aragorn did not share my feelings and return my affections, and I was so distraught that death seemed like sweet redemption.
“But redemption comes in many forms, and for me, it was not through death that I found it. Lord Aragorn was right. I am so grateful that I came to the battle and was wounded, for otherwise I would never have met… him.”
“The man you love?” guessed Miriel.
Eowyn nodded dreamily.
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense!” Miriel said, leaning to the edge of her chair. “Who is he?”
“He is Lord Faramir, a valiant captain of Gondor that was injured in the defense of Osgiliath,” Eowyn answered. “He was injured almost to the death and was sent to the Houses of Healing. We met here, and after five days of anxious watching and waiting for news from the East we fell in love. Two days after the fall of the Barad-dur, he asked me to marry him, and I gladly consented.”
“Lord Faramir! Legolas spoke of him!”
“Yes,” Eowyn replied softly. “His father, Denethor, died, and now Faramir is the Steward of Gondor.”
“Faramir is the Steward of Gondor!” Miriel repeated in disbelief.
“For now,” said Eowyn. “But not for much longer. The King is coming soon.”
“I heard. Legolas told me. I can’t believe the one who fought with us in disguise at Helm’s Deep is the rightful King of Middle-earth!”
“Lord Aragorn will be crowned in Minas Tirith very soon,” announced Eowyn.
“Yes. The ceremony will be held here in four days.”
Eowyn nodded. “Not long ago, while I dwelt in Edoras, I would never have imagined that I was standing on the edge of legend,” Eowyn declared. “Who would have thought we were living in the days that the ancient prophecies would at last be fulfilled?”
Miriel grinned wildly and shook her head. “I just can’t believe everything is turning out so wonderfully!” Miriel cried, leaping to her feet. “If I hear any more good news, I think I shall just burst! Oh, Eowyn!”
Miriel rushed at the Princess and gave her a quick hug. When she looked up, she found a man whom she did not recognize standing in the doorway, watching them. Miriel paused and withdrew from Eowyn, and she felt suddenly shy.
“Hello,” she tentatively greeted him.
“My lady,” he answered courteously and bowed.
At the sound of the familiar voice, Eowyn whirled and a dazzling smile lit her face.
Miriel glanced at Faramir and saw that he was equally delighted to see Eowyn, and he quickly crossed the room to stand beside Eowyn. He lightly kissed her hand, and then turned his brilliant blue eyes upon Miriel expectantly.
“This is the Lady Miriel of Rohan,” Eowyn announced. “She was adopted by my uncle, and is a princess of Edoras now, and therefore my sister.”
“Lady Miriel!” exclaimed Faramir, raising his eyebrows in surprise and bowing. “Eowyn has told me much about you.”
Miriel smiled at Faramir, and was filled with a genuine liking for the serious and handsome young man. Miriel could not have been happier for Eowyn.
Faramir had recently lost both his brother and his father, and he walked in a dark valley on a path similar to the one Miriel herself had recently traversed. Yet he bore it well. He was stern and quiet, but joy hovered just beneath the surface. Miriel perceived that healing had come not only to Eowyn through their love.
After a few polite words, Miriel curtseyed and left them alone. She walked out in search of Legolas and called to him. She knew he would not be far off.
She found him at last, standing at the wall of Minas Tirith with his hands clasped behind his back, shining like gold in the brilliant sunset. He was staring into the West, and his fair face was once again twisted in some indiscernible torment of mind.
Legolas turned and instantly exchanged his agonized look for a forced smile when he saw Miriel coming, but he was too late. Miriel had seen his pained expression, and the knowledge that something was definitely wrong burned in her heart.
She came close to him, and Legolas gathered her gently in his arms. Miriel tucked a stray lock of golden hair behind his pointed ear. She looked deep into his blue eyes and was surprised to find that they were misted over, as if Legolas were near tears.
“What is bothering you, mellon nin?” she asked quietly.
Legolas looked away and stared down absently over the wall, at the lands of Gondor that darkened under the dying sunlight, as if he were trying to come to a difficult decision. Miriel watched him anxiously. She sensed that an overwhelming burden rested upon his shoulders.
“If you only share it with me, we can bear whatever it is together,” urged Miriel.
Legolas stood still and silent as if he had not heard. At length, he turned back to Miriel and smiled lovingly at her.
“I will tell you, my lady,” Legolas promised. “But not now. The Shadow has fled and the night is over, and now is a time for joy and celebration. Let us not speak of sorrowful things just yet.”
Miriel looked hard at Legolas, longing to argue the truth out of him, to press the issue until he relented. She knew she could. But something stopped her. Slowly she yielded to the intensity of Legolas’s soft gaze. She sighed deeply and nodded.
Legolas appeared relieved, and he bent forward and placed a tender kiss on her brow. They stood together on the wall until the sky faded to black.
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.
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
Chapter Thirteen: THE ROAD TO MINAS TIRITH
Chapter Fourteen: TALES IN THE CITADEL