1. A Song of Ascent
It was a cold night in the two-and-seventieth year of the reign of King Elessar. A great number of people gathered in the Hall of the Tower in the uppermost circle of Minas Tirith. In the Hall there was the throne of the King of Gondor, set upon a dais of many steps. Upon the lowest step of the dais there was the black stone chair of the Steward of Gondor. Both the throne and the chair were empty, for it was not for an audience with them that the people came that night.
Before the dais there was a bed of state, and torches were set about it, and twelve guards. Five of them were the Guards of the Citadel; five belonged to the White Company of Ithilien; and two others were the knight of Rohan, knights of the king's own éored. For upon the bed before the dais lay Éowyn the White Lady of Ithilien, wife of Faramir the Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien, sister of the late Éomer King of Rohan. Fair and serene she looked, as old age had matured her beauty instead of marring it. Her once golden hair was all white, but its lustre was not diminished. Upon her body up to her breast was laid a rich cloth of white lined with sable and silver threads on its four edges. The sign of the Prince of Ithilien was stitched on its centre. The hangings of the bed were of white and green, in the same hues with the banner of Rohan.
The people of Gondor and Rohan came to pay their last respect to the White Lady, beloved by them all. Among the high lords and ladies gathered in the Hall were King Elessar and Queen Arwen, Elfwine King of Rohan, his queen, and his mother Lothíriel, Prince Alphros of Dol Amroth, and other lords and ladies of Gondor and Arnor. There were a number of dwarves of Aglarond led by Gimli their lord, and the Elves of Ithilien with Legolas their lord. The envoys from other realms in peace with the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor came also, because of the respect they bore for the Steward of Gondor.
The Steward and his family stood together near the head of the bed. Faramir stood straight and tall, for old age and grief could not bend the Steward of Gondor. His grief was visible but not even once did he lose his composure.
The chief minstrel of the court of Minas Tirith approached the bed and after a bow he began to sing. In the fair Elven-tongue he sang a song of Éowyn, of her great deeds and courage and beauty. The people of Gondor chanted together with him in many parts, for the tune was familiar to them. They sang of how she smote the Black Captain, how her love for her king surpassed her fear, how she laughed with a voice that rang like steel before the hideous foe. They sang of her deeds in the later years of peace, of the talented healer that she was, of the light that she brought to Ithilien, of her renowned garden and horses. They sang of the fair daughter of kings who once stood in Minas Anor with the lustre of the sun in her tresses.
When they sang that part Faramir felt queer. It was him who wrote that verse for his lady long time back. It sounded different now, as if the minstrel changed some of the words. Then he understood what was different. That was the first time he heard Éowyn's beauty spoken of as something that belonged to the past. Shortly after the passing of Boromir and Denethor, Faramir realized that it saddened his heart to hear people spoke of them as things in the past. As the years passed, he no longer felt the sadness. But that night he again felt it terribly as he listened to the minstrel. Great deeds and great beauty, but they were all gone. They sang of laughed, was, stood. What about is, Faramir asked in his heart, what is she now, what am I to do now?
The song ended. After a time of silence, another song began. It was a funeral song of the kings of Rohan and his family, sang in the tongue of Rohan, in the tune that was originally composed for the Lament for Eorl. Andreth, granddaughter of Faramir and Éowyn, sang it slowly with her clear voice. The people of Rohan sang together with her. The tune evoked bittersweet memories, and the sound of the words stirred the heart with a great sadness, even to those who did not understand the tongue. Faramir more than understood the words. For the lament described his thought almost perfectly. Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the bright hair flowing? Where is the fair hand in the fair garden? They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow.
The song of Rohan ended. Now Andreth took her harp and played the tune of the Lament. The slow and somber tune filled the hall. But after only one or two lines the tune was altered. It still sounded like the Lament, yet there was a subtle difference. It evoked the same sadness, yet there was something different in the sadness, it was almost sweet. Those who heard the music suddenly remembered those dear to their heart, and remembered them not only with sorrows, but also with joy. Faramir felt as one who had been lost in a bleak forest and suddenly heard the merry sound of trickling water, and found in his heart the hope of finding a green glade. He felt as if a gentle hand was guiding him.
Even as he reflected on this, Andreth continued with another tune. She played it slowly, in keeping with the theme of the Lament. This new tune was very sweet and soothing. To his surprise, Faramir could even hear in it a hint of the merry song that was always sung in the feast of harvest in Ithilien. Éowyn liked the tune, she often hummed it as she tended the garden in Emyn Arnen. Likewise, Faramir often whistled the tune when he approached his house (and thus his lady) after a long journey. Andreth made a subtle change so that it was no longer merry, yet it retained still a glimpse of joy. Faramir stared at his granddaughter with wonder. She met his gaze. In fact, she had her eyes in Faramir the whole time she was singing and playing the harp. She smiled to him and nodded, as if assuring Faramir that the music was not his mere fantasy.
Then she began to sing again. High and clear was her voice as she sang the soothing tune that she had just played. In the tongue of Rohan she sang of a journey, a great journey that Éowyn was even then starting. A great adventure the like of which even the Elven lore did not tell. The last verse was almost an answer to the Lament.
A horse nobler than the Mearas, even now the lady is riding,
Swords and shields no longer needed, her bright hair free flowing,
The hand is now caressing, flowers that all blooming,
In a blessed land where winter is as merry as spring.
She has passed like a pleasant summer, she who banished our shadow,
Her days in Middle-earth have passed, she is come to the green meadow,
None can tell of that land, world that has no ending,
but joyful it must be when we the Music joining.
When the song ended there was a complete silence in the hall. No one had ever before heard such music or words in a funeral. Faramir stared in silence at Andreth, and he felt as one who had been lost in a bleak forest, had heard the merry sound of trickling water, and suddenly found the flowing river and the green glade. Andreth approached his grandsire, took his hand and pressed his palm to her cheek. For a moment neither of them said anything. Then Faramir took her to his arms and kissed her brow. "I thank thee," he said. "We named thee well, little one."
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.