Summer 3004, Age III – Edoras Rohan, The Golden Hall
Théoden, King of Rohan, surveyed his hall. A great feast was about to begin. Every lamp was lit. Every table was set with the best linen and service. The chief Lords and Knights of his realm were there with their wives and children. When he judged that the waiters had filled every cup, he rose to his feet and banged the table loudly three times with a great oak gavel to quiet the room. When it was quiet, he began to speak.
“Before we dine, I would like to take a moment to introduce our guest of honor, Boromir Son of Denethor, Captain General of Gondor.
I was born in Gondor and lived there until I was five years of age. My mother was a Lady of Gondor. I have visited that great land and its great capitol of Minas Tirith, which we name Mundburg, many times. A place of wonder and delight, a land where both the wise man and the soldier are held in high regard, It is a second home to me.”
Turning to face Boromir, he continued, “I have known your father for the whole of my life; he is a great man, a master of lore, a soldier’s soldier, and a wise ruler of a great people. I have known you since you were a lad, and you are as fine a son as any man could ask for. I am proud to have you seated here at my table to honor your new post as Captain General. I can think of no better choice to lead the armies of the Gondor.
The army you now lead mans the ramparts and guards the eastern frontier in our eternal struggle with the foe we do not name. Without the strength and resolve of the people of Gondor this world would be a bleak place. A place where no man would be free to till his plot, tend his herd, or raise his children. For that service we are all in debt, to you, your soldiers, your father, and your land. I salute you, Boromir, son of Denethor, Captain General of Gondor, and the great land you represent. You and your heirs will always be welcome in this house.”
With that, the King raised a great tankard of ale, nodded in Boromir’s direction, and drank it down. Everyone in the room did the same, and upon setting their drinks down broke into great applause.
Boromir smiled, moved by the fine words, and stood to speak. “I am just a simple soldier who was lucky enough to be born to a good post. I live a life of duty. Seldom have I drawn a duty that is better than tonight’s, to feast with Théoden, King of Rohan, and the brave Sons of Eorl who cover my backside.” He then raised his tankard and drained it dry.
A cheer and more applause rose from the guests.
I would be proud to ride to battle with the Knights of this great house on any field, on any…
Boromir speech trailed off, as he and the rest of the feasters stood transfixed, watching two children roll across the floor locked in combat. One a boy fully equipped in the kit of a Knight. The other was a girl in a white dress, with long golden hair that had been tied with ribbons and flowers which were now being left in a trail as the two rolled across the floor, trying to strangle and punch each other.
Two of the King’s guards arrived and quickly separated the combatants.
As soon as the children were set upon their feet a laugh went across the room. The girl in the fight was none other than the Lady Éowyn, adopted daughter of the King. Her legend had already grown large for a life of only nine years. From the day she had been adopted at age two, she had been a disruptive presence at Court. The Queen had died years earlier; the King doted on his new “daughter” and was unwilling to reign in her wild behavior. Stories of her antics at Court, and unsuitability as a proper lady were legion, and the ladies of the court were exasperated in their attempts to train her in the arts of a woman. Just seeing her properly turned out in a dress was a shock to court regulars.
With a come here motion of two fingers, the King signaled the guards to bring them forward. The children were marched to the front table, directly in front of him. The lad was Tydrec son of Tydhelm, an important Lord from the West Mark, whose House was wealthy from selling grain to foreign markets.
The King’s ire fixed first upon his niece, “Explain yourself.”
Éowyn returned the King’s glare, not turning her eyes away from a look that would have melted a strong man, “He mocked me, and I do not take insult from anyone.”
“Is this true?” the King asked, turning to the lad.
“I complimented the Lady Éowyn on her dress, and she attacked me,” The boy replied.
A laugh went up from the guests. Théoden quieted them by raising his hand.
“His words were fair, but his tone was mocking,” Éowyn interjected.
“What say you to that?” The King asked, turning his eyes to the boy.
After a pause, the boy answered, “She speaks true. I was making jest with her, knowing she does not like wearing a dress.”
The King could not fully suppress his smile. “You will apologize to her, and to me, and my guests for disrupting our feast.”
Before the lad could say a word, Éowyn spoke up, “Uncle, I refuse to accept any apology; I was insulted and demand satisfaction.”
“Éowyn, my feast has had enough interruption already,” the King said, glaring at her. “Now take the lad’s apology and let us get on with the evening.”
“I refuse,” she replied adamantly. “It is my right as a noblewoman.”
The crowd started to laugh, but were stopped with a glance from the King.
The King glared at her, but couldn’t find the words to express himself at the moment.
The pause lasted for a few seconds until his son broke in and said, “father, she is correct. Any noble who has been insulted has a right to demand satisfaction. I have never heard that there was an age limit.”
The King looked at his son in disbelief, “I can’t believe you are supporting this foolishness.”
“I am supporting the law, is that foolish?” Théodred answered. “Is it not true that our laws and customs apply to all?”
The King just sat there staring at his son for a moment; he had no answer, knowing he was right.
Turning back to his daughter he said, “Lady Éowyn, you have been insulted and have demanded satisfaction, as is your right. Being a Lady, you have the right to name a champion to defend your honor. Do you wish to name someone to stand in your stead?”
“I fight my own battles,” Éowyn answered.
“Very well,” the King said and looked the boy, “Master Tydrec, you have been challenged on a point of honor, you have the right to choose the weapons.”
The boy’s father, Lord Tydhelm, stepped forward and spoke, “this is ridiculous Sire, they are children, she’s a girl.”
This raised another laugh from the crowd, which was quickly stifled by the king raising his palm towards them.
“Sir, your son is in training to be a Knight of our realm,” the King replied. “As such, he has sworn to uphold the standards of our order, as we both did when we were his age. He has insulted a noblewoman, and been challenged accordingly. The customs are clear and known to all here. We will settle this in the traditional manner.”
Lord Tydhelm answered with a bow, “As you wish, Sire.”
The King returned to the lad, “Your choice of weapons sir?”
Tydrec shifted from foot to foot, not sure for a moment, and then a gleam came to his eye, “wooden swords,” he said, sounding self-assured.
Éowyn answered, “fetch them, this won’t take long.”
Théodred, the King’s son, interrupted, “Father, the lad is wearing leather and mail armor. The Lady Éowyn is wearing a fancy dress. They should be equipped the same.
“I have many dresses,” Éowyn grinned.
The crowd laughed, which was cut off by a glance from the King. Addressing the crowd he said, “they may be children, but a challenge of honor is serious business and we will treat this seriously.”
Looking at Éowyn sternly he said, “that applies to you as well, young lady, mind your tongue.”
Galmring the King’s armorer stood and said, “Sire, she is about the same size as young Master Éomer when he began training. His first set of armor would fit her.”
“Is it ready for use?” the King asked.
“Yes Sire,” the armorer answered.
“Take and get her into it as quickly as possible,” the King ordered.