Rahne stepped out beyond the walls of the city. The wind blew her sunrise colored hair past her shoulders. She quietly watched Théoden at the grave of his son. She heard a movement behind her and turned to see Aragorn watching her. Her smile was sad.
“What are you doing here?” Aragorn asked quietly, looking beyond to the grieving man. Rahne turned to follow his gaze and answered. “No parent should ever have to bury their child…”
Aragorn looked at her. “You knew Théodred?”
“He was like my brother. When my parents died, Théoden let me live with them in the Golden Hall. I grew up with Théodred, Eomer, and Eowyn…” They were both silent for a while.
Rahne was about to leave when she caught sight of a horse plodding along. Suddenly, a body fell off the horse and thumped to the ground.
“Oh, by the Valar…” Rahne said as she dashed toward the horse, with her skirt flying in the wind.
Later, in the Hall, the two children were hungerly gluping down stew and bread. Eowyn stood beside them.
“They had no warning. They were unarmed. Now the wildmen are moving through the westfold, burning as they go. Rick, cot and tree.”
The small girl whimpered. “Where is Momma?” Eowyn shushed her as she moved to wrap a blanket around the child.
Gandalf sat beside Théoden who was sitting on the golden throne.
“This is but a taste of the terror that Saruman will unleash. All the more potent for he is driven mad by fear of Sauron.” Théoden turned to look at him. “Ride out and meet him head on. Draw him away from your women and children. You must fight.”
Aragorn spoke up from the table he was sitting at with Gimli.
“You have 2000 good men riding north as we speak. Éomer is loyal to you. His men will return and fight for their king.”
“They will be three hundred leagues from here by now. Éomer cannot help us.” Théoden shot back. “I know what it is you want of me. But I will not bring further death to my people. I will not risk open war.”
“Open war is upon you…” Rahne said from the back of the Hall. The men turned to look at her as she walked forward. Théoden had the look of a beaten man. Rahne knelt at the throne and put a hand on his arm. “…whether you would risk it or not.”
“What is the king’s decision?” Gandalf asked.
Gandalf hurried to the stables. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas followed. In the background people hurried about, getting ready to leave. Gimli snorted.
“Helm’s Deep! They flee to the mountains when they should stand and fight. Who will defend them if not their king?”
“He is only doing what he thinks is best for his people. Helm’s Deep has saved them in the past.” Aragorn replied.
Gandalf enterd the stable where Rahne was getting Shadowfax ready for the ride.
“There is no way out of that of ravine. Théoden is walking into a trap. He thinks he is leading them to safety but what he’ll get is a massacre. 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. The people of Rohan will need you. The defences have to hold.” Gandalf said to Aragorn, who replied assuredly.
“They will hold.'”
Gandalf muttered to himself.
“The Grey Pilgrim. That’s what they used to call me. Three hundred lives of men have I walked this earth and now, I have no time.” To Aragorn he said, after mounting Shadowfax. “With luck my search will not be in vain. Look to my coming at first light of the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.”
Rahne grasped the wizard’s hand.
“Go.” She whipered. Legolas opened the stall gate and Shadowfax leapt forward with the speed of lightning.
The rest of the day was spent in a flurry of activity, as everyone helped pack up to leave the next day. After Gandalf left, Rahne went to her room to change her dress. She choose a dove grey everyday work dress. After she had finished tying the laces, she went into the main hall. She carried her crossed knives, out of pure habit.
As Rahne moved into the hall, she noticed Eowyn staring at a sword. She picked it up and pulled it out of the sheath. Rahne quietly snuck up behind her and as Eowyn spun around, her blade flashing, Rahne caught it with her two knives. Eowyn grinned.
“It’s been a while since we did this, huh?” Rahne smiled back and twisted her blades out of the sword’s grasp and pointed one at Eowyn.
“Ready to be beaten, Shieldmaiden?” She asked
“Not if I beat you first, Storm…”
They both spun and started moving with a clang of metal. A few people stopped and stared at the odd sight of two women sparring.
Aragorn and Legolas came into the hall talking, but they stopped and stared at the sight. Aragorn watched their movements. Eowyn was extremely skilled with the sword and she used it with strength. But Rahne had a beautiful grace as she fought. Watching her, you would think she was dancing.
They sparred for a while, untill Rahne deftly twisted Eowyn’s sword out of her hand. It fell to the floor with a loud clang.
“Ok, so you win, Storm…” Eowyn said, ruefully. Rahne bent and handed the sword back to her and they both smiled. Rahne turned to put her knives away, and as she did so, she felt like someone was watching her. She looked up and met the eyes of Aragorn. She gave a half-smile and lowered her head, with flushed cheeks.
Something’s seriously wrong with me…
The next day found the people of Edoras in a long procession heading to the mountains. Eowyn was leading Gimli’s horse and Rahne heard her laugh as he told her of the dwarves. It was good to hear her laugh again, a sound much missed. Rahne walked just back of Aragorn’s horse, while leading her own. While they walked, she studied him. He was old and she could see it when she looked at his care-worn face. But other than that, he didn’t look old enough to be her father. It was true that she had seen many years as well, but those looking at her couldn’t tell. She smiled as she remembered some of the memories she had pushed into the back of her mind.
“What is it that is so amusing, m’lady?” Aragorn’s voice broke through her thoughts. He had slowed down to walk beside her. She dropped her eyes and wondered if he knew she had been thinking of him.
“Nothing in particular…” She absently stroked her horse’s mane.
“Tis’ a beautiful animal…what’s her name?” Aragorn looked past Rahne to gaze at the charcoal grey horse she was leading. Rahne smiled up at him.
“Thank-you. Her name is Mystery, for the Mearas are a mystery to me and many others.”
“Speaking of names…I wanted to ask you about yours, Rahne. It’s very…unusual.”
“Unusual?” She raised her eyebrow at this.
“I mean, it’s a beautiful name. I have just never heard it before.” Aragorn hurridly assured her. Rahne laughed, clear and silvery.
“Don’t worry about it. My mother named me after a song she used to sing to me, when I was young.” Rahne looked ahead and Aragorn wondered what she was thinking. Then she started to sing in a clear, beautiful voice.
Hush now little child
Listen to Earth’s lullaby:
The call of the sea, the echo of the wind, and the rustle of dancing leaves.
But I can hear something in the East
It is like no other, it will bring life to a dying soul.
I hear whispers….whispers of rain
Aragorn was caught up in the sound of her voice. Rahne stopped singing and turned to look at him.
“My mother loved the rain. That song is more of a prophecy, though I don’t know how or when it will be fulfilled.”
“It was beautiful…is that why Eowyn calls you Storm?” Rahne grinned.
“Partly, the other reason is my hair…Eomer used to call me Firestorm, untill they shortened it. They say it’s because I have a “flaming personality”…”
He laughed and they both fell silent. They overheard Gimli talking to Eowyn.
“It’s true you don’t see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, they are often mistaken for dwarf men. “
Eowyn turned around to look at Aragorn, who whispered “It’s the beards.” Both Rahne and Eowyn laughed.
“And this in turn has given rise to the belief that there are no dwarf women. And the dwarves just, spring out of holes in the ground! Which is of course ridiculous…” Gimli continued.
Suddenly the horse took off and Gimli took quite a tumble off the back. Eowyn was still laughing as she ran to help him up.
“It’s alright! It’s alright. Nobody panic. That was deliberate. It was deliberate.” Gimli assured everyone. Rahne raised an eyebrow and grinned.
The next day, after a restless night, the people of Rohan continued their journey across the plains. Rahne rode with Théoden for a while. She talked to him, something she hadn’t been able to do for a while. She silently thanked Gandalf for releasing the king. She had sorely missed him.
After a while, Théoden sent two scouts up to check out the area and Rahne rode up to where Eowyn and Aragorn were talking. She caught the last sentence of their conversation.
“She is sailing to the undying lands, with all that is left of her kin.”
Rahne stopped and decided not to join them. Instead she galloped up the hill.
She found Legolas plunging his knife into the body of a large wolf-like creature. He called to her.
“Stay back! It’s a scout!”
She turned and raced back to the company. Théoden and Aragorn turned toward her.
“What is it? What’s happened?” Théoden asked.
“Wargs! We’re under attack!” She saw Aragorn tense up and Théoden paled a little. He started calling up the riders and moving the women and children back. As he called out orders, Eowyn rushed up.
“What’s going on?” She asked Rahne. Théoden turned to her.
“You must lead the people to Helm’s Deep. And make haste!”
“I can fight!” Eowyn cried.
“No!” In a softer tone he said. “You must do this for me.”
Eowyn gritted her teeth and started to herd the people around. Rahne followed after a stern look from Théoden.
“Make for lower ground! And stick together!”
The last thing Rahne remembered seeing was Aragorn staring at her as he turned his horse to head to the battle. The last thing she rememered thinking was
Come back…I can’t bear to lose you…