His hand sneaks into his belt pouch and traces the contours of the small, wooden horse that never leaves his side. The intricate whorls on the saddle blanket are nearly invisible, rubbed smooth from years of play, and later from the reverent touch of remembrance. He does not need to see it to know that only shards of the original green and white paint remain.
He thinks it appropriate, for shards of memory are all that remain of the father who so lovingly carved the little creature. A rumbling laugh. The smell of saddle leather and smoke. A deep voice raised in song. And one never-to-be-forgotten conversation.
“But *why* do you have to go?” A petulant boy scuffs his toe in the dirt of the courtyard. “Who will take care of Mother and Éowyn?” And me, he is too proud to add.
“Why, you will, my son.” A large hand rests on the bright head, tweaking the braid that is barely long enough to stay plaited. “As will I.”
Blond brows draw together, puzzled by the contradiction. “How can you, if you are gone?”
“By keeping those who would harm...your mother and sister far, far away from here. Although I know you would bravely defend them, should you be so called. Éorl grant you never have to.”
He gazes down from the ramparts, grimly calling to mind the boys of the Westfold, dead defending their own kin from the ravening horde below. Behind him, other boys don armor too large for their slight frames and heft swords in hands calloused by the plows they should never have been called to abandon.
He withdraws his hand from his pouch and places it on the hilt of his sword. “We have failed, Father,” he whispers, wretched with the knowledge that more children of Rohan will die even should men prevail this dark, hopeless night. “But I swear to you now, should the Enemy fall, we will never fail again.”
"This is the hour when we draw swords together!" Running like fire, they sped along the wall...Together Eomer and Aragorn sprang through the door, their men close behind. The two swords flashed from the sheath as one.
"Guthwine!" cried Éomer. "Guthwine for the Mark!"
"Andúril!" cried Aragorn. "Anduril for the Dúnedain!"
Charging from the side, they hurled themselves upon the wild men.