King's Folk, The
explain to his father, to Gil, or even to himself, the
impulse that sent him into the barrow on the Ranger's
heels. How much help was a green boy clutching a
kitchen cleaver likely to be? and yet for all that it
stuck in his craw to let the Rover face whatever was
there under the earth alone.
Gil carried no torch and neither did Beomann, it
should have been black as pitch inside the barrow, but
it wasn't. A cold, unholy light burned in the burial
chamber and crept, sickly pale, up the passage.
And there were voices. Thin, cold, moaning voices
drearily chanting in a language Beomann couldn't
understand but which seemed to drain the warmth from
his body and hope from his soul.
And then Gil cried out a word that stopped the
chanters' tongues and shattered the spell like like a
dropped plate. Beomann gave a great gasp of relief and
crept closer to look in the burial chamber door.
The first thing he saw, with horror, was little Tom
and Daisy laid out on a slab of stone as if for burial
decked in cold, dead gold with a naked sword lying
across their throats.
The second was the three Wights, their white bones
clothed in rags of skin and tattered silk. And lastly,
facing them, the Ranger. Tall and terrible in worn
green leather, eyes and sword gleaming with a pure
silver light. He spoke again, clear ringing words that
fired Beomann's heart though he understood them no
better than the Wights' song.
The undead things shrank and gnashed their
fleshless jaws then, snarling, drew long greeny-white
swords and sprang at Gil. His blade flashed clean
silver flame as it cleaved the formost Wight from
skull to breast bone. It collapsed in a heap of
splintered bone and a cold wind rushed, wailing, past
Beomann and up the passage, fading into the distance.
He unscrewed his eyes and uncovered his ears in
time to see Gil slice the head from the shoulders of a
second Wight and had the sense to get quickly out of
the way of whatever it was that fled wailing into the
night. More Wights were coming out of gaping openings
to other chambers or passages, converging on the
Rover. Beomann launched himself at them with an
Old dry bone splintered under his cleaver as he
hacked at limbs and rib cages. It caught on something
and was ripped out of his hand. Ducking under the
swing of a Barrow Wight's sword Beomann grabbed for a
blade lying on the floor, rolled onto his back and
skewered the Wight as it bent down to stab him. He
scrambled to his feet, swinging the sword inexpertly
with both hands as he charged back into the fray.
Suddenly the sickly light went out. Beomann
stumbled over a tangle of bone and fabric, fell and
lay still, panting, afraid to move in the blackness.
The Rover's voice, breathless but calm, came out of
the dark. "Who's there?"
A rustling and a warm strong hand clasped his arm.
"Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so."
"Well, Beomann, I don't know how you came to be
here but thank you for your help. Now let's get the
little ones out of here."
It turned out Beomann was hurt, a long gash along
his jaw, another running from shoulder to elbow on his
right arm, and a bloody hole through his left thigh.
But he didn't feel them until after they'd arrived safe
back at the Pony and his mother'd descended upon
him with a sharp cry of dismay.
The Widow Thistlewood hung, wringing her hands and
dripping tears, over the cold still bodies of her
children. "Are they dead?" she moaned, "are they
"No," Gil answered her, "but their spirits are
lost, wandering in Shadow, and must be called home."
Little Tom and Daisy, still in their barrow jewels
and silken burial robes, had been laid out on a table
in the common room with what seemed like half of Bree
jostling and craning their necks for a look.
The Rover leaned over them and spoke commandingly in
the same strange language he'd used in the barrow.
"Lasto beth nîn, tolo dan na ngalad!" Silence fell
abruptly over the crowded room, but the children did
Gil reached to take each by the hand. "In the name
of Elendil the King and of Hundeth the Chief I summon
thee. By the oath that binds thy kin to mine I bid
thee come back to the Light!"
And Tom gave a great gasp and opened his eyes. And
his sister uttered a long wail and held her arms out
to her mother. Gil stepped quickly back as the Widow
caught her children up in a tight embrace and the
crowd of Bree folk surged forward to congratulate and
exclaim. Came over to where Beomann sat on a stool
before the fire with his mother tending his wounds.
"You must watch for infection." the Ranger warned
her. "Wightish weapons are notoriously unclean."
"I can imagine." Mrs. Butterbur sniffed. "Nasty
undead things!" squinted up at him. "Are you hurt?"
"Not a scratch, though I might have been killed if
not for your son." and he gave Beomann a smile that
made him feel warm clear through and a good foot
taller. "That was brave, my friend. Not very
intelligent perhaps, but brave."
"I'm that proud of him." Mrs. Butterbur agreed and
threw her son a sharp look. "But if he ever does the
like again I'll kill him myself!"
"Yes, Mum. Sorry, Mum." Beomann said meekly. But in
his heart he wasn't sorry at all, and in the back of
his mind an idea was born to lie hidden, even from
himself, for a long while.
His mother was studying the Ranger again and
clearly not liking what she was seeing. "You look
like death," she told him. "and you say you're not
"Not by Wights." Gil answered, which was a mistake.
Ishbel Butterbur had raised four sons and three
daughters, she knew an evasion when she heard it.
"By something else then?" the flash of guilt in his
face was all the answer she needed. "Get up, Beomann."
she ordered. Then to the Ranger. "You, sit down." he
opened his mouth to protest. "I said sit down, young
The vivid laughter that briefly lit his face made
him look young indeed. Meekly he took Beomann's place
on the stool. Under jerkin and shirt was a bandage and
it had blood on it. The wound beneath, a nasty
diagonal gash across the ribs, had been neatly
stitched closed but oozed blood here and there where
it had broken open again.
"Taking on who knows how many of those horrid
Wights with a great gash like this in you," Mrs.
Butterbur scolded as she cleaned, salved and
rebandaged the wound. "have you no sense at all?"
"Not much." Gil admitted, smiling. Then more
seriously; "What else could I do, Mrs. Butterbur, with
two children gone?"
That silenced her, more or less. She grumbled to
herself as she finished her bandaging, then ordered
Gil upstairs to bed and to stay there until she said
he could get up!
That made him laugh again. "You sound just like my
old Nurse. Very well, Mrs. Butterbur, I know how to
follow orders. Good night."
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.