Legolas, Silvren, and Aragorn walked side by side behind Gandalf and Gimli, following behind the burial procession for Théodred. Eówyn had loaned Silvren a dark green dress with a golden belt for the occasion but she left her hair in a simple braid with loose pieces of hair falling about her face and wore a thin, plain circlet of gold on her head. Villagers lined up along the road and down to tomb where Théodred would be buried. The sounds of people crying could be heard clearly as the wind whipped around them.
Eówyn waited with many other people by the mound which he would be placed in, her long hair was fixed up and a small gold circlet lay upon her head. She wore a dark blue dress and bore a sorrow-filled expression which rarely ever left her face.
Everyone watched as the lowered Théodred and slowly placed him in the tomb as Eówyn sang a song that sounded like it was full of sadness. A song that was very different from the songs of the Elves.
Slowly Legolas and Silvren walked back up the hill together, hand in hand with their arms and shoulders touching. They followed the mass of villagers back through the city gates and back to Théoden’s hall.
“How did you get here?” Legolas asked, a thought that he had wanted to ask after he saw her.
“Shadowfax brought me here after the hobbits and I met Gandalf in Fangorn. And, Legolas, I met an Ent! A real live Ent named Treebeard!” Silvren said excitedly.
“Good, I’m glad you got to meet an Ent.” he smiled as they entered Meduseld and walked down the hall.
“There’s something I need to show you.” Silvren said as she led Legolas through the corner door and into the dimly lit hallway.
“Wait, there’s something I want to give you. This belongs to you.” he said turning to face Silvren. In his hand he held her silver necklace and crystal pendant. “You dropped them back at Amon Hen.” he whispered.
“I was wondering where I lost it.” she whispered softly.
“You still have the other one, correct?” he asked in an almost worried tone.
“The clasp broke, but I was able to fix it.” Legolas said as he walked around behind her. Silvren reached back and pulled her braid over her shoulder as Legolas hung the necklace around her neck and closed the clasp. He placed a gentle kiss on the back of her neck and proceeded with the second necklace. “Now it’s back where it belongs.” he whispered and placed a second kiss on her neck. He walked around in front of her and took her into his arms, tenderly kissing her as he had not done in a long time.
* * *
By the time Silvren had reached the door to the room where Eanil was staying, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Gimli had joined them. Together they entered the room and Eanil looked up at them in surprise.
“So this is the valiant orc who saved you and the hobbits?” Gandalf asked as he leaned on his staff smiling down at the confused Eanil.
“He’s not an orc anymore.” Silvren said quickly. “He’s an elf and he wants to fight with us when he is fully recovered.”
“Is this true?” Gandalf asked.
“A wise decision. It won’t be long before your memory returns to full and then you will truly be at peace.” Gandalf smiled.
“I hope so. I do know that I did nothing to deserve being turned to an orc.” Eanil replied.
“I can agree with you on that. Don’t worry; you will be up and about on your own soon enough.” Gandalf said. “Come, we shall let him get the rest he needs some he can join us.” Gandalf turned and said to the others.
* * *
Silvren sat in a wooden chair out in the hall with a small girl sitting on her lap, tearing at a piece of bread.
“They had no warning.” Eówyn said as she stood up from where she was kneeling beside Silvren. “They were unarmed. Now Wildmen are moving through the Westford, burning as they go. Rick, cot, and tree.” she said as she placed a blanket around the small girls’ shoulders.
Silvren glanced over at Legolas who stood across the room from her with his back against one of the wooden pillars. Aragorn and Gimli sat at the table beside Legolas. Aragorn fingering his pipe as Gimli shoveled the remains of his dinner into his mouth.
“Where is mama?” the small girl, whose name was Freda, asked in a high-pitch voice.
“Shh.” Silvren said, pushing back a strand of strawberry-blonde hair from Freda’s face.
“This is but a taste of the terror Saruman will unleash. All the more potent for he is driven now by the fear of Sauron.” Gandalf murmured to Théoden from where he sat beside the king.
“Ride out and meet him head on. Draw him away from your women and children.” Gandalf said in a low voice as he placed a hand on the armrest of Théoden’s throne. “You must fight.” he finished fiercely.
“You have 2,000 good men riding north as we speak.” Aragorn said after taking his pipe out of his mouth. “Éomer is loyal to you. His men will return to fight for the king.”
Théoden stood up from his throne and walked towards the center of the room. “They will be 300 leagues from here by now. Éomer cannot help us.” he said in frustration. “I know what it is you want of me.” he said turning to face Gandalf as the wizard walked down towards him. “But I will not bring further death to my people. I will not risk open war.” he added sternly.
“Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.” Aragorn said in a stern and grave voice, his eyes fixed upon Théoden.
Théoden turned around and glared at Aragorn. “When I last look, Théoden, not Aragorn was the king of Rohan.” he said in an irritated tone.
Gimli set his ceramic mug down on the table with a soft thump, ale running down his thick beard and then he burped.
“Then what is the king’s decision?” Gandalf asked walking towards the king.
“By order of the king, the city must empty.” Háma shouted to the villagers. “We make for the refuge of Helm’s Deep. Do not burden yourself with treasures. Take only what provisions you need.” he kept repeating the order to ensure that all the villagers heard the order.
“Helm’s Deep.” Gimli scoffed as he followed Gandalf and the others to the stable.
Villagers bustled about the city loading wagons and carts with their belongings and helping those who were too old and sick to go on foot into the carts.
“They flee to the mountains when they should stand and fight. Who will defend them if not their king?”
“He’s only doing what he thinks is best for his people.” Aragorn stated as they walked through the stable doorway, the strong smell of hay surrounding them. “Helm’s Deep has saved them in the past.”
“There is no way out of that ravine; Théoden is walking into a trap.” Gandalf said as he and Aragorn neared Shadowfax’s pen. “He thinks he’s leading his people to safety. What they will find is a massacre.” he added quietly; after Aragorn creaked open the gate and Gandalf stepped inside the pen. “Théoden has a strong will but I fear for him. I fear for the survival of Rohan. He will need you before the end, Aragorn.” he said drawing closer to Aragorn. “The people of Rohan will need you. The defenses have to hold.”
“They will hold.” Aragorn said firmly.
Gandalf turned around to face Shadowfax and began stroking the horses’ white neck. “The Grey Pilgrim. That is what they use to call me.” he muttered. “Three hundred lives of men I’ve walked on this earth and now I have no time. With luck my search will not be in vain.” he said as he lifted himself up onto Shadowfax’s back. “Look for my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.”
“Go.” Aragorn whispered as he moved to the side and held the stall door open. Shadowfax darted from the pen like an arrow flying from a bow as he ran past Legolas and Gimli, forcing them to move to the sides.
* * *
Silvren was helping to ready the horses with the help of Eanil who insisted on helping with anything possible. He was dressed in fresh clothes Eówyn had found that had once belonged to her cousin. His long, light brown hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and he had a lively spirit and was very happy to be helping anybody and everybody who needed it. Gandalf had been impressed with his recovery and saw to it that he would be allowed to join the cause against Sauron. As Silvren was handing him a bridle and reins, they heard a horse whiny in irritation and turned to see two men struggling with a beautiful brown stallion. They watched as Aragorn put down the saddle he had been carrying, not listening to the man behind him telling him not to bother with the horse.
“Let him be, he knows what he is doing…sir.” Silvren called out to the man who reluctantly regarded her words.
Aragorn began speaking in Elvish in a low tone as he approached the stubborn horse and took the rope from the man closest to him, letting the man go help elsewhere.
“I can understand him,” Eanil whispered in surprise, “I know what he is saying.” he said happily to Silvren as she smiled at him in return. Slowly, Silvren walked towards Aragorn who noted her approaching and nodded his acceptance. Carefully, Aragorn placed his hand on the horse’s neck then untied the rope from the horse’s bridle and handed it to Silvren, speaking in Elvish the entire time.
“His name is Brego.” Eówyn called out to Aragorn. “He was my cousin’s horse.”
“Your cousin was lucky to have a horse as fine as he.” Silvren whispered as she gently stroked Brego’s nose.
“Brego.” Aragorn repeated. “That is a kingly name.” he whispered in Elvish.
Slowly, Eówyn approached Aragorn and Brego so not to disturb to calm horse. “I have heard of the magic of the Elves, but I did not look for it in a ranger from the North.” she said quietly as Silvren turned and walked back over to Eanil. “You speak as one of their own.”
“I was raised in Rivendell for a time.” Aragorn told her as Silvren and Eanil left the stable. “Turn this fellow free. He has seen enough of war.” Aragorn said as he walked past Eówyn and took a saddle from a nearby man and went in search of Hasufel.
* * *
Within an hour the town was set to leave. Silvren walked in the back of the line Eówyn and the two children, Freda and her older brother, Eóthain. Eanil walked in front of them with Legolas and Aragorn behind them with Hasufel. Silvren held Freda’s hand and carried a basket of food and blankets on her hip. Her traveling clothes were in a small knapsack on her back and her weapons were still strapped on Arod’s back. Eóthain rode on top of their horse that was being led by a middle-age man.
The villagers and the king’s court walked in a long procession for miles and miles, across the flat lands and a small blue lake. Women and children carried baskets full of belongings or small children. Men pushed or pulled carts with either belongings or the elderly who could not walk.
“It’s true, you don’t see many dwarf women.” Gimli said from atop one of the brown horses of Edoras.
Eówyn walked beside the horse holding the reins while Silvren walked on the other side with Freda still holding her hand.
“And in fact, they are so much alike in voice and appearance that they are often mistaken for Dwarf men.”
“It’s the beards.” Aragorn whispered to Eówyn as she turned around to look at him.
“This in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no Dwarf women and that Dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground.” he said, making both Silvren and Eówyn laugh. “Which, of course, is ridiculous.”
All of a sudden, the horse darted forward and dropped Gimli on the ground. Silvren gasped and ran towards Gimli with the basket balanced with her one hand on her hip, the contents shifting inside. Freda and Eówyn came running behind her as Gimli rolled onto his back.
“It’s all right. Nobody panic!” he shouted.
“And why shouldn’t we?” Silvren asked as she set the basket down beside him and with Eówyn’s help they helped him to his feet.
“That was deliberate. It was deliberate.”
“Of course it was.” Silvren said as she tried to contain her laughter.
“I haven’t seen my niece smile for a long time.” Théoden said as he rode up beside Aragorn. “She was a girl when they brought back her father dead. Cut down by orcs. She watched her mother succumb to grief.” he continued sadly. “Then she was left alone to tend to her king in growing fear. Doomed to wait upon an old man who should have loved her as a father.” he spat in disgust. “It’s good to see her in the company of another woman who see can see as her equal and not elder.”
“They seem to be getting along quite well.” Aragorn stated.
“Yes, I’m very glad of it.”
“Are you okay, Gimli?” Silvren giggled as she helped Eówyn dust off his shoulders.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine. Now where’s that horse off too?” Gimli asked.
“Over to your left.” Silvren smiled as she picked up the basket and took a hold of Freda’s hand again.