Disclaimer: Middle-earth with all his parts and peoples, especially the Rohirrim and the Dúnedain, is not mine. I wish they were, but let's face it, they are not. They belong to the Great Professor Tolkien, whom I've been admiring for the last thirty-odd years of my life. Yes, I am actually that old! Nor do I make any money of this. Dou you think I'd still work if I did?
Now, on the other hand, the peoples of Rhûn are all mine. Their history, their customs, their twisted personalities – I developed them for my own fantasy universe in the early 1980es and simply adapted them to Middle-earth for the sake of this story.
The story plot is mine, too. Originally, it didn't include the Rohirrim or the Dúnedain, of course, since I had my own peoples instead. This is still no crossover, though. Being a borderline tale, written rather as an afterthought, it has little to nothing to do with the great events of my own universe. I wrote it because I liked Imogen and wanted to give her a story on her own.
So, when I wanted to do something more original than rewriting the Fellowship of the Ring from Boromir's POV (not that I would not be proud of that one, mind you), I started to think about Rhûn. We know literally nothing of this part of Middle-earth, except that, and I quote Aragorn, “the stars are strange” there.
Then I brought out the map from The Unfinished Tales and saw a huge land, reaching from the Iron Hills to Khand, trapped between Mordor and Dol Guldur... and it strongly reminded me of a certain part of my own universe.
I decided to use an old concept of mine, complete with tribal struggles and tragically-fated characters and a fully developed story plot, to write an action/adventure fic after all that major gloom and angst I went through with Boromir, Elladan and partly Éowyn, too. I wanted to write a story with an actual happy end. Advanced age can do that to a writer.
I also wanted a fresh and underused LOTR-character for this story, one that was not yet tugged through all that now so fashionable smut; one that was practically unknown, with little to nothing personal background, so that he would blend in with my original characters, but still known enough even for those who only knew the three books of LOTR to get interested in him.
And since I always loved the Rohirrim, I chose Elfhelm.
I've been fond of him from the first time on when I read LOTR, somewhen in the Elder Days. He was the one who helped Éowyn to sneak her way into the host of Rohan and into battle, under the disguise of Dernhelm – which alone is enough to fall in love with the guy forever, if you are an Éowyn-fan. Well, I am one.
So I chose Elfhelm, made him Éomer's kinsman from Eastfold, gave him a complex family background and sent him (well, actually Théoden sent him, but that's a formality only) on an important quest, negotiating some peace treaty with the Prince of Rhûn.
Where he would not only run into the most interesting people like Elves and Dwarves and the Dúnedain of the North, but he also would have dangerous adventures, be able to save the day and at the end get the girl, too.
If you have read "Frozen Flower", you know what I mean.
If you have not, it's your loss, but you will understand this story nevertheless, since it's a stand-alone. You'll miss some well-placed hints to other stories, though.
ELFHELM’S PERSONAL BACKGROUND:
Father: Lord Hengest, the Maegtheow of Clan Éowain and the Lord of the Eastfold. Kinsman of Éomund of Eastfold, probably an elder cousin first or second grade. Close enough for Elfhelm to become Marshal. Any other details will be revealed as we go on.
RATING AND WARNINGS:
I rated the story for the age up of 14, for war themes, fighting scenes and violence, and well, some implied het content. Yes, this is a straight story. As straight as a board.
So. You've been properly warned. It's your choice to hit the Back button. Still with me? I'm proud of you – and we're almost done here, anyway, so hold on a little longer.
ABOUT MY SOURCES:
Boring, I know, but they have to be mentioned.
The portrayal of the Rohirrim is based on The Books and Michael Martinez' articles at suite 101_com.
I also took some details from the RPG website http://www.rohan.elendor.net.
Unfortunately, that site seems to be gone for good now, which is a pity. It had such excellent background worked out on the Rohirrim.
If you are reading this, you know who the Dúnedain are. Or the Elves. Or the Dwarves.
The peoples of Rhûn represent two different cultures:
1. The Khimmerians, who are basically a warrior-like old German folk, living in a very harsh environment, under the domination of Sauron and Khamúl, the Captain of Dol Guldur, though secretly trying to get lose from their overlords. They have a culture like that of the Hallstatt people of the Iron Age.
2. The Morduins, who live under their rule and do all the field work. The Morduins were developed on the basis of Finno-Ugric people, living still in some parts of Russia and having the same folk name... well, almost. Finno-Ugric folklore and folk art played a great role when I made them up. They have two subgroups, the Erza-Morduins, to which the people of Elfhelm’s mother belongs, and the Moksha-Morduins, who are, basically, the Mannish people enslaved by Mordor, labouring at the Sea of Núrn.
There are some pictures on my website, showing these people in their own environment – take a look if you are interested. You can even see Ragnar the Smith, Ingolf and Imogen there, painted by the wonderfully talented Zdenek Burian – for a book about prehistorical human cultures, concerning particularly the Hallstatt-culture.
Now, that we are done with all the introductions – enjoy!