22. Chapter 22
7th April 3019
The sun had already sunk to a red globe; soon fires would be sprouting up over the field like miniature beacons as men clustered around to share the evening meal. Éomer threaded his way between the gathering groups and the steaming pots, making for the area near the river where large pavilions formed a huge semi-circle. But reaching the back of his own quarters he hesitated, knowing that if he joined the others around the big fire it would be difficult to get away. And not only was Guleth due to visit him later, but he had some queries from Elfhelm to answer – getting over four thousand men back home, many of whom were wounded, needed organisation. And as Aragorn was sure the Hobbits would be fit enough for the ceremony in the morning, and he would be unlikely to get anything much done after that, it would be far better to eat supper in his tent and tackle his correspondence. Deciding on that course, he sent the guard to collect some food and slipped quietly inside.
His meal finished and the tray pushed aside, Éomer started to add up the numbers of injured still in Cormallen who would need to be transported home by cart, but in the middle of his calculations he heard a noise outside, and then the guard’s gruff voice confronting a visitor. The candle had hardly burnt down, so it was a bit early for Guleth, and anyway, he doubted the guard would be quite so loud if she were his visitor. Sighing at the coming interruption he put down his quill and looked up just as a tall form blocked the open doorway.
Éomer immediately stood up, irritation evaporating when he recognised the intruder. “Amroth, is that you?”
“Éomer King.” Amroth stepped into the tent, bowing his head
Really pleased to see the young prince, Éomer pushed back his chair and went around the table, holding out his arm for a warrior’s clasp. “Éomer will do,” he said. “When did you get here?”
Amroth took his arm firmly, and even in the torchlight Éomer could see he looked a whole lot better than at their last meeting when his handsome face had been a dull grey tinged with green. Now it had regained a healthy colour and he stood tall and unbent. Wearing the dress uniform of the Swan-knights he could be mistaken for a younger version of his father. “A while ago, but you weren’t around at supper, so I thought I would seek you out. I’ve brought a letter from your sister.” Amroth took a folded piece of parchment out from under his dark blue velvet cloak and passed it to Éomer.
Éomer stared at it for a moment, recognising Éowyn’s scrawling hand. His last hope faded. “She obviously didn’t want to come with you?”
“No. I made a point of asking her. I even offered to find a lady to accompany her. But she said she was happy where she was and would await you there.”
“Oh well, she must have her reasons.” Struggling to hide his disappointment, Éomer put the letter down on the table to read later, and picked up the flagon of wine, offering it to Amroth.
The Prince grinned. “I’d rather have ale.”
Éomer raised his eyebrows in surprise; it didn’t go with the elegant attire. “Would you? I’ve rather taken a fancy to this. But we have plenty of ale.” He called out through the flap, and moments later a brimming tankard appeared.
Amroth took it and sat down, letting out a little whistle of admiration. “They have made you pretty comfortable, no wonder no one seems in a hurry to return to the City.”
Éomer sat down opposite him and took a deep swig from his goblet. “We have been waiting on the Hobbits, but, besides that, Gandalf insists the crowning should take place on May Day, and Aragorn cannot enter the City until then. Also there are many here that still need healing, of mind and body. Fighting in that evil place is like nothing I have ever experienced before and only yesterday the last came in of those sent deep into Mordor. They need some respite before the celebrations.”
Amroth’s face lit up at that. “And what celebrations there are going to be. Faramir is throwing his heart into it, and many of the ladies have already returned. Excitement mounts daily and,” his black eyes twinkled with merriment, “most seem intent on providing a very warm welcome for the returning heroes.”
“If the ladies are returning to the City, Amroth, them I am surprised you didn’t stay and take advantage.”
“Tempting, I know, but I thought I would get even more luck if I rode back with you. They will all think me a brave conqueror.” He grinned mischievously. “That’s if you don’t tell them I didn’t actually make it to Mordor.”
Éomer laughed at that, sure Amroth would have no difficulty anyway. “I’ll keep your secret. But you might regret spending the next couple of weeks here, females are pretty scarce.”
“So Erchi told me. But a few ladies of pleasure arrived today on the same ship as me. They must have bribed the Captain. And many are waiting at the Harlond, eager to grab a ride. But I am not sure you would want to meet them,” he said, wrinkling his nose.
“I don’t,” Éomer replied. “Harlots I can live without. I hate the stink. And unfortunately it would be better to have none here than just a small number. If there are not enough to go around then we are likely to have trouble break out between the men.”
“Problems between men usually have a woman somewhere in background. And I agree with you about the harlots, I prefer widows myself.” His lips twitched as something amused him. “And pretty women married to old men are always a good bet.”
Éomer guffawed. “You are incorrigible. Get caught up to those tricks in the Mark and you would be likely to get a sword through your guts.”
“I can believe that, having become acquainted with your countrymen over the last few weeks. Remind me to be careful if you ever invite me to visit…” Amroth’s eyes suddenly opened wide and he stared towards the door, a slow smile starting on his face.
Éomer turned sharply and smothered an oath. Now he was for it. “Mistress Guleth, don’t go, please come in.”
Guleth hesitantly entered, bowing her head. Her eyes flicked nervously between him and Amroth. “My Lord King, forgive my intrusion, your guard was talking to someone and waved me in.”
She had a cloak over her dress but the hood had fallen back and her hair was uncovered. She clutched her embroidered bag and didn’t look much like a healer, but Éomer made an effort to convince Amroth. “Mistress Guleth has been attending to my injured shoulder, it needs regular massage.”
The prince’s eyes gleamed with amusement; in fact he looked about ready to burst into laughter. But controlling himself he drained his mug and stood up. “Your shoulder, Éomer? Regular massage? How fortunate to have someone on hand to tend to it. I will leave you. I would hate to delay the healing process.”
“Mistress Guleth, Éomer King,” Amroth made a very graceful bow and went to the doorway, but as he went through he turned and gave Éomer a broad wink over Guleth’s head, just before he dived outside.
Imrahil and his youngest son obviously not only looked alike, but shared the same traits! If Amroth didn’t believe him, it couldn’t be helped. But Guleth looked stricken.
“I am sorry, the flap was wide open. And he spotted me before I could retreat.”
“Don’t worry.” Éomer gave her arm a reassuring squeeze. “He’s a friend; he won’t say anything to anyone.” At least he hoped Amroth would only share it with his brother. But he didn’t want any talk upsetting Guleth and making problems for her. “Guleth, I very much enjoyed last night, but if you wish our relationship to return to that of healer and patient, I shall understand.”
Guleth glanced at him from under her lashes, a soft smile playing about her lips. “No, I also enjoyed it very much, and how I spend the night hours is my own business. But I think I should attend to your shoulder before any other diversions. It really does need repeated treatments.”
Éomer laughed. Moving close to her, he unfastened the tie of her cloak, pushing it back and running his hands over her shoulders at the same time. He dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I think you should. And if you don’t mind, I would like to read a letter from my sister whilst you do so. It will stop me from being distracted by those magic hands. But I must close the flap, I don’t want any other callers.”
Not that easy, reading Éowyn’s scrawl by candlelight whilst trying to ignore Guleth’s agile fingers and the soft caress of her breath on the back of his neck. And Éowyn didn’t say much anyway. No real reason why she had decided to stay in Minas Tirith. Most of the letter was about the progress made by various wounded men with whom he was acquainted, and a few comments on the forthcoming celebrations. He sighed deeply, and put the letter down, sure he was missing something.
Guleth’s fingers stopped. “Is everything all right with your sister? She seemed well recovered when I last saw her.”
“Yes, it seems so. But to be honest I had hoped she would join me here. I cannot understand why she does not, and what keeps her in the City.” Guleth’s fingers had recommenced their kneading of his flesh, but at that they paused for a moment before carrying on. “Do you have some idea, Guleth?” he asked, alerted by the slight tension in her hands. “You were there.”
Éomer turned, looking into her face. Small white teeth nibbled at her lower lip and little frown lines had appeared just above her nose. With him watching she dropped her eyes. “Well, do you?”
“I might, but I don’t really want to say in case I am wrong.”
“It could give me some clue. If you are right it will help, and if you’re wrong I will be no worse off. I shall just have to wait until I see her. So you might as well tell me.”
She nodded, her frown disappearing as her eyes softened. “I am only surmising, but we all thought that the Lady Éowyn and Lord Faramir had formed an attachment. The Warden was sure of it, and I overheard him telling Mistress Ioreth.”
Stunned for a moment, Éomer didn’t know what to say. It was just about the last thing he had expected. Éowyn had ridden to war because she was eating her heart out for Aragorn and now, only a few weeks later, she had fallen for another black-haired Númenórean. Women were nothing if not fickle.
8th April 3019
His first throne. It might be made of green turves, but it had been fashioned like a throne and sat high above the ranks and companies that covered the wide space by the river. Armour and weapons polished to mirror bright, the mighty host gleamed and shone in the noon sun. All quietly waited. Aragorn, on his left, had his great sword resting across his lap, and behind him the White Tree of the Kings of Gondor flowered upon a black field beneath a shining crown and seven glittering stars. The other side of Aragorn, under the shimmering standard of the Princes of Dol Amroth, Imrahil sat, straight and proud, the years fallen from him since their victory.
Éomer glanced above to where, floating on its field of green, the Great White Horse of Eorl ran free. He gave thanks to the Valar that the Mark had gained the friendship of these two great men that sat beside him on their makeshift thrones. Closer bonds between Gondor and the Riddermark could only be good for his people – his people – the thought both terrifying and amazing. He had not sought this, but fate had taken a hand and he would be lying if he did not admit to feeling pride at being lord of a fell people.
In the silence of their waiting, he cast his eyes over the Rohirrim in front of him, some with bandages and some leaning on their friends for support. They had suffered so much, both at home and here on the fields of Gondor. There and then he swore an oath – at whatever cost to himself he would serve the Mark and its people. If it took every ounce of his strength they would prosper again. The children would not go hungry; farmers would till the land and not have to ride to war, and women would walk in safety. All that he could do would be done to achieve this.
A long trumpet blast signalled that the Hobbits were on their way. Men straightened and unsheathed their swords, raising them high in the air and crying out praises in loud voices when they caught sight of them. Éomer felt for Frodo and Sam. If Gandalf had not been behind them he guessed they would have turned tail and ran. And he couldn’t blame them, since they had only risen from their sick beds that morning. He studied the small figures as they plodded slowly towards the three high seats, red faced and clad in rags amongst all this splendour and pageant.
“Makes you think, doesn’t it,” he murmured to Aragorn. “All the trained warriors at our disposal, an armoury of fearful weapons to call on, and it took two humble hobbits to walk into Mordor.”
Aragorn nodded. “Great evil has been defeated both here and in your own realm, by the bravery and tenacity of the meek and the mild. It is a lesson for us all.”
As Frodo and Sam approached, the three most powerful lords in Middle-earth stood up.
16th April 3019.
Elphir looked tired, Lothíriel thought. The relief of Gondor’s victory had taken the worry lines from his face, but the responsibly he now had, left him little time for rest. Ship after ship had departed for the Harlond: food gleaned from the farms of Belfalas, clean linen for the Rohirrim, fodder for their horses, all had to be collected and accounted for. Her mind on the horses, she realised Elphir was talking about room on the next ship going to Minas Tirith for wives to join their husbands at the coronation and daughters to seek fun. Fun! Lothíriel’s heart went out to those who would stand silently watching the leave-taking – victory bitter-sweet to those who had lost their loved ones.
Elphir tapped the table to get her full attention. “We are sending dancers and harpists, Lothíriel. There are to be great celebrations. Lord Aragorn is to be crowned on the first of May. That gives you plenty of time to get there.”
Lothíriel shuffled her feet under the table and pushed the piece of chicken to the other side of her plate. She had known it would come to this, and he was going to be mad. “I don’t want to go, Elphir. There are still many wounded to see to, and anyway with all the grief around, I don’t feel like celebrating.”
His lips twisted in annoyance. “Lothíriel you are twenty years old. You should want to celebrate and join in the fun.” Lothíriel said nothing, staring down at the congealing mass of food.
“Damn it!” he exploded. “You are a lovely young woman. A princess! It is not right that you hide yourself in the Healing Houses under that awful grey sack. Umar is dead, and you must try and forget all about him. There are many honourable and worthy men out there. They are not like him.”
Lothíriel shook her head. He didn’t understand. None of them did.
“It’s over, Lothíriel. It’s all over. A new age. You have to get on with your life.”
“It’s not over for me, Elphir. I am sorry, but I do not feel like dancing and celebrating. Too many have suffered, and too many lives have changed. Maybe this is my life. I do not know. But I do know that I am not ready for anything else yet.” She got up, dropping her napkin onto the table. “I am sorry, please excuse me.”
Lothíriel could understand Elphir’s exasperation with her – but if only he would give her more time. But she knew he was trying to help, even if his attempts were clumsy. She would speak to him again when she had got her thoughts together. Try to explain how she felt.
Sighing in frustration at the difficulty of it all, she ambled along the wide passage, not feeling like going to her room. A ride would be good, but she could hardly go and ask Elphir to lend her one of his horses, besides, it was unfair to expect Sergion to come out with her when he had barely finished eating. Idly she ran her hand along the carved wooden moulding that ran along the wall, depicting the story of Amroth and Nimrodel. It ended with the Lord of Lórien disappearing under the waves, right at the entrance to the library.
The door stood ajar, and Lothíriel could easily guess who was in there. Not feeling like being alone with her thoughts, she pushed it open. “I missed you at supper.”
Oríon looked up, startled by the interruption. Great pieces of parchment littered the big table, most of which were covered by drawings of the various parts of ships. A tray of food remained untouched on a small side table, along with a jug of wine. But with no sign of annoyance at her intrusion, he put down his pen and smiled. “I was in the middle of some calculations and didn’t want to stop.”
No change there. He had always been single minded. “Now you have stopped, why don’t you eat something? Here,” she went to the little table, “I will pour you some wine.”
With a resigned grin, Oríon moved his chair closer to the food. Ink stained fingers reached for a piece of chicken and shoved it haphazardly between a folded piece of bread. He took a large bite, chewed it thoughtfully and let the rest drop back down on the plate. “I am also working on some ideas that I wish to discuss with your father as soon as he comes home.”
“Whenever that is.” Lothíriel couldn’t keep the misery from her voice.
“You miss him?”
“Yes. And Amroth. It’s not the same around here without him.”
“No, I agree there. But why don’t you go to Minas Tirith.” Oríon suggested. “Everyone else seems to be heading that way.”
“That’s what Elphir wants me to do. But he doesn’t understand that I don’t want to celebrate. I am overjoyed, of course, that Sauron has been defeated.” She stopped, letting out a deep sigh. “But so many awful things have happened; I can’t just go on as though they haven’t.”
“Hmm…what is it that bothers you: the years of anguish from that pig Umar, or the fact that you shot the mercenaries and the farmers died because of it?”
Lothíriel dropped her head. Why was he straight to the point when everyone else had been skirting around the real reason for her distress. “Because I lost my temper more lives were lost. I am a healer, and that is what they – Elphir – doesn’t understand. I am supposed to save life, not take it, but he dismisses that.”
“You are different from what you are expected to be, Lothíriel. Being different from your family is not easy, but you have to stay true to yourself. Do you think I have found it easy staying here in safety and comfort whilst my best friend had to take part in a devastating battle? My father gives me nothing but support. Although sometimes I wonder what he really thinks.”
“He loves you. He’s proud of you!” Lothíriel exclaimed.
“And Elphir loves you. He wants the best for you, and for you to enjoy all the privileges to which you are entitled.”
“I know that. But I need time. If only he could see that I need time.”
“He will realise. Deep wounds don’t heal in a moment, but the scars will fade. Look how badly my father was injured, but although he will always limp along, he has not lost his zest for life. Your wounds cannot be seen, but they still leave scars. Those scars will lessen if you help them to.”
“You are right, Oríon. I know you are right. And I will try very hard.” She picked up the plate and held it under his nose. “Why don’t you eat this and come for a ride with me.” She would ask Elphir for a horse. He would be pleased.
1st May 3019
Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled, and he knelt, and said: ‘The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.’ And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and gave it back, saying: ‘That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!’
Then Faramir stood up and spoke in a clear voice: ‘Men of Gondor hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dúnedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur’s son, Elendil’s son of Númenor. Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there?’
And all the host and all the people cried yea with one voice.
From The Return of the King. J. R. R. Tolkien
Éomer took Éowyn’s arm as they slowly mounted the steps to the great feast hall of Merethrond. On each side of each step stood an immaculately dressed guard, resplendent in silver and black, spear pointing to the heavens. At least Éomer thought they were guards, for all he knew they could be dressed up statues. He fixed his eyes on one, willing him to move, but not a muscle quivered. “Prepare yourself,” Elfhelm whispered from his other side. “I don’t think you will have ever seen the like of this.”
Éomer grinned at the Marshal. A moment’s awkwardness when meeting him after their altercation in the Healing Houses had been squashed under the memories of years of friendship.
Liveried servants met them in the anteroom; bowing so low they looked in danger of toppling over. They were ushered through great carved doors, the vast hall opening up before them, and the first thing that struck Éomer was the clashing riot of colour. Accustomed at home to seeing ladies dressed in mainly greens, whites and reds, the bright yellows and oranges amongst the purple and blue threatened to give him a headache. Then the heat hit. The heat and the smell. The heat came from the huge numbers of multi-branched candlesticks that graced every table. The smell probably from the women. He generally liked women to smell nice, but the mixture of perfumes from the mass of people around him assaulted his nostrils. And the paint. Why did most of the Gondorian ladies think they had to powder and paint their faces to the extent that some of them looked like decorated dolls? Did they think their artistry improved on nature? Or were they trying to disguise it, he mused, as a woman with a sharp face, hawk nose and bright red lips fluttered her lashes at him before she inclined her head.
“You will be in great demand when the dancing starts,” Éowyn muttered under her breath.
Éomer twisted his lips into a grimace. “Just don’t leave me alone with them.” Thank goodness Éowyn didn’t see the need for all that powder and kohl. Her fresh-faced loveliness outshone all the made-up beauties around him.
But she didn’t look at all sympathetic. “I already have some dances promised, Éomer so I can’t hold your hand. You will have to rely on your warrior’s acumen to mount a defence.”
Dances promised to the worthy steward no doubt. He looked around and met a forest of eyes watching him. Bema! Give him a thousand orcs to deal with. “Well, don’t you leave me!” Éomer hissed to Elfhelm, causing the Marshall to put his hand to his mouth to cover his chuckle. “And don’t tell me you got dances promised, not with that pretty wife of yours waiting at home.”
“I shall consider it my duty to protect my king from the wiles of a roomful of beautiful women.” Elfhelm said straight faced.
A pathway had been left from the door to the dais, and a portentous servant led them towards the top table. Éomer could see Imrahil and Faramir already waiting, along with Legolas and Gimli and, with his attention taken by them, didn’t notice a trio of trumpeters step forward. The ringing salute was the signal for the incessant noise to gradually fall to a hush and all eyes swivel to land on the three Rohirrim. The crowds of guests managed to get a good gawp before they bowed. Éowyn’s fingers dug into his arm. She didn’t like quite so much attention.
Luckily though, Aragorn, Gandalf and the Hobbits were not far behind. The trumpets rang out again and all, including himself, bowed deeply. The four hobbits were looking around as if they had stumbled into the wrong play, Gandalf had a satisfied smile on his face and Aragorn looked incredibly kingly. At least he did until he slapped Éomer on the arm and whispered. “Dressed you up too, have they. I feel like a stuffed chicken.”
They had. Gondorians seemed to have a knack of producing anything needed in the wink of an eye. In his case a dark red tunic with an incredible amount of gold embroidery, not to mention the silk shirt and undergarments. But if they didn’t open the doors and let the cool air in he was going to have to take some of it off.
He sat down thankfully. There might be a long evening ahead but he could relax at the table, as always enjoying the conversation with Imrahil who sat on his right. Éowyn was on his left, between him and Faramir. So he wouldn’t get much out of her. Seeing the two of them already in deep in conversation gave him no doubt that Guleth was right. He would welcome such an honourable man as Faramir for a brother, but if he were to lose Éowyn to Gondor he just hoped she knew her own mind this time.
A lull in the conversation with Imrahil, when the prince’s attention was taken by Legolas, allowed Éomer to glance around the hall. From the high table he had a good view of the other diners. He spotted Imrahil’s two sons straight away: Amroth was talking avidly to a young woman opposite him, and she was looking deep into his black eyes with a bemused expression on her pretty face. Éomer nearly choked on his mouthful of food when he saw the scowl on the face of the fat man sitting next to her. Husband or father? Husband probably, he deduced. A father would welcome the interest of such a high-born noble, but if this man could wield a sword as well as he could glower, Amroth was likely to be skewered to the back of his chair. Erchi on the other hand had obviously decided to concentrate on the free flowing wine and was sitting back in his chair looking very relaxed and contented. Possibly helped by the buxom serving girl who kept leaning over him to fill his goblet, brushing herself provocatively against his arm in the process.
Chuckling to himself, he scanned the next table and his interest was immediately taken by an elderly lady wearing a garish purple headdress. Rather than concentrating on the plate of food in front of her she was paying rapt attention to one of the table decorations – a vast edifice of flowers and fruit, interspersed with fronds and the long curling feathers of some unfortunate bright-plumaged bird. The lady – she must be a high lady as she was sitting on one of the tables near the dais – with no regard for the curious stares from her table companions, plucked a handful of feathers from the arrangement, chose the longest and the curliest, and reached up to stick it firmly into her head-dress. The rest she bunched together, tied them with a ribbon that had previously been around her napkin, and fanned herself furiously.
Intrigued and amused, he quizzed the prince. “Who,” he said to Imrahil when he had finished his conversation with the elf, “is that odd lady in the purple headdress.”
Imrahil followed his gaze, a smile breaking out over his face when he saw the object of Éomer’s curiosity. “Oh, that’s Lady Tinusel. She’s a little eccentric, but very kind. In fact my daughter is very fond of her. They became great friends when Lothíriel spent some time in Minas Tirith.”
“Oh, really.” Éomer tried to think of something polite to say, but failed. Anytime Imrahil’s daughter had been mentioned he had got the impression there was something slightly odd about her. Now he was sure. And he had imagined her to be younger, but if she made friends with eccentric old ladies he must be mistaken. He realised no one had actually ever mentioned her age and he had just assumed. But it sounded as though she must be older than Elphir, Imrahil’s eldest son, who he understood to be over thirty.
“Oh, you may like to meet Tinusel, Éomer,” Imrahil continued, his lips twitching with amusement. “She was a great friend of your grandmother, Morwen.”
But she was nowhere to be seen when the feast finished and the tables were pushed aside for the dancing, Éomer was not sure whether to be glad or sorry. Instead he dutifully danced with his sister and a few ladies who were married to some of the Gondorian warriors he had become friendly with, but after that he’d had enough and wondered how long it would be before he could make an exit. He’d rather spend the rest of the evening with Guleth, preferring her simple honesty to the crimped, pampered ladies around him. Luckily Faramir had given him a large chamber in the King’s House, so she would have no trouble coming to see him in her guise as a healer. And he would not be the only one who would have company that night. Éomer had noticed the lovely lady Imrahil had danced with more than once. Amroth had soon enlightened him as to her role in his father’s life, seeming to totally accept the arrangement.
“Ah, my Lord King, we have not been introduced. An oversight on the part of our new Steward, I think. But we must forgive him. Being so taken up with your sister. You must be thinking them rude to be spending so much time together.”
Éomer gritted his teeth, how dare anyone make comments about the Steward, or Éowyn. Bema! It was the hawk-nosed woman who had eyed him when he had first arrived. She must have put more carmine on her lips since the meal because they were still bright red. Now was the time to behave like a king. He drew himself up to his full height and deliberately looked down his nose. “And you are?”
“Oh, silly me. I am Lady Heleguin. Lord Faramir is a cousin of mine.” She pouted her lips and tapped his arm with a long nail. “We are likely to be seeing a great deal of each other in the future.”
Not likely! He looked around for Éowyn but not surprisingly she was in Faramir’s arms again. He might be tempted to scupper that association if Faramir had any more relations like this one. And where was Elfhelm? He was supposed to keep close.
Just before he worked himself up to give her a proper set down, rescue came from an unexpected quarter. Éomer smelt a heady, sultry fragrance and a soft voice floated across his anger. “My Lord King, Prince Imrahil would welcome a word with you. He asked me to guide you to him.”
“Playing messenger now, Lady Calaerdis?” Heleguin smiled sweetly, but her eyes held a furious glint.
Lady Calaerdis arched an elegant brow. “Oh, I am happy to play a variety of roles, Lady Heleguin. It adds to the spice of life.” She held out her arm. “Shall we, my lord?”
Éomer inclined his head to Heleguin, whose mouth was still wide open. He took Calaerdis’ arm gratefully. “What does Imrahil want?” he asked as he led her away.
Calaerdis smiled up at him, grey eyes full of laughter. She must be into her forth decade but smooth, blemish free skin covered a perfect oval face. Only a hint of red on her lips, she needed no other enhancement. A lovely woman, and he could understand why Imrahil was attracted to her. The sort of woman a man would be proud to have as his wife. “Nothing that I know of, my lord. But you looked in need of help, and the Prince would have wanted me to rescue his friend.”
Éomer burst out laughing. “Then I am in your debt, Lady Calaerdis. And I shall be even more in your debt if you show me a back way out of here.”
To be continued.
List of Original Characters mentioned or appearing in this chapter:
Sergion - Friend of Prince Imrahil’s. Was a Commander of Swan-knights but now the Captain of Lothíriel’s Guard. Injured when an attempt was made to kidnap Lothíriel. Charged with the defence of Dol Amroth during the Ring-war.
Oríon - Son to Sergion. Childhood friend of Amrothos and Lothíriel
Umar - Prince of Harad. Device – the Black Serpent on Scarlet. Obsessed with Lothíriel. Killed on the Pelennor by King Théoden of Rohan
Princess Meren - Elphir’s wife. Rescued by him from Corsairs to whom she refused to give away the hiding place of her brother’s children in spite of being assaulted.
Lady Heleguin- A relation of Faramir’s
Lady Tinusel - Comes from Lossarnach. Made friends with Lothíriel during her visit to Minas Tirith.
Lady Calaerdis- From Sirith in Lebennin. A rich widow. Mistress to Imrahil.
Mistress Guleth - An aide in the Healing Houses. Originally from Lamedon. Enjoying a relationship with Éomer.
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