Reflections in a Broken Shield
"No steady hand of mortal man
Could slay the mighty foe
'twas the Maiden of the shield arm
that brought his last to woe..."
I let my sewing slip to my lap and listened to the verse drifting up from the courtyard. The
minstrels had been working on the song since sunrise. It would be needed soon.
I walked to the window and looked East to the Houses of Healing, then past them to the buildings beyond. I thought it strange that this was the place where Lady Éowyn had chosen to wait for death. She had no love for the city. For the trouble it had taken to remove her from Emyn Arnen, she might have passed as easily to Edoras or the sea. Yet, Minas Tirith was where she asked to go.
Perhaps she had done so to please Lord Faramir?
Perhaps she had reasons that I could not yet understand. Although the Lady Éowyn was my grandmother, and I had dwelt in her house all my nineteen years, she was a contradiction, and sometimes a mystery to me. As a child it seemed improbable that the maiden whose figure adorned the banners of the White Company, and my feisty, silver-haired grandmother could be the same. As a woman I found it impossible.
I had heard her story a thousand times. Grandfather told it best. My cousins and I sat for
hours at his feet, enraptured by his every word. We shivered together as he recounted the battle of Hornburg. We squealed and scattered as he reenacted the winged beast bearing down with clawing hands. We recoiled in childish disgust as he described the first kiss on the city walls.
Grandfather's Wormtongue was particularly vivid. He poured himself into the hunchbacked stagger and oily voice. By my youth, the portrayal had already evolved into caricature: the hapless maggot of Saruman whispering in the ear of Théoden King while leering after his niece. I do not think that grandfather ever saw the sadness that crossed his lady's face at that part of the telling. I glimpsed it once, and I marveled to think that, for her, this was a memory, and not a tale. The revelation was shocking. For, though the deeds of the story were stirring, they were safely distant and foreign as well. Even in the hall where the shattered shield and broken sword were hung, the tale of Éowyn seemed no more than a myth: a distant echo of Luthien and tales before the Sun-- a bedtime story that could entertain, but could not harm.
I tried to ignore my discovery. Truth be told, I did not want the story to be real, for the bitter follows hard upon the sweet. There were other tales than glory of the maiden of the North. There were murmurings among the older folk who might have known, that Éowyn sought, not glory, but death. They lowered their voices in insinuation as they laced her name with the king. They argued, sometimes forcefully, that a woman of honor would not have abandoned her people for the field, but I ignored their doubts. I chose to see the jewel, and not the dank cave from whence it came.
My grandmother was a hero. I did not need her to be more. I did not want to find her less, and so I did not delve too deeply lest I awaken what I did not wish to meet.
A knock at my chamber dispelled my musings. I noted, with dismay, that the music had stopped.
"Enter." I called.
The door opened slowly. Prince Eldarion, son of the king, stood in the threshold. His presence, rather than that of a servant, announced his message before he spoke.
"My lady?" He asked, compassion warming his fine dark eyes. "Your father requests your presence."
The prince dipped his head, his bowed shoulders revealing what his lips would not. "Your father wishes to speak to you himself."
Then the bells of Minas Tirith began to ring.
I knew the White Lady was dead.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.