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9
Théodred the Brave

Prince Théodred is “played” by Vladimir Kulich. Imagine him as he appeared in “The 13th Warrior”, only a lot younger and more richly attired. The Lady Aud is my OC. The various clans and Houses of the Rohirrim are borrowed from an online RPG that has, sadly, vanished from the Net.

Théoden’s daughter Idis was a character Tolkien actually considered for a short while. She appears in the early writings both next to Éowyn or in her stead, but was finally rejected. I resurrected her because I found her too interesting a character to ignore – I just changed her background a little.

I ruefully admit that I don’t know a thing about horses. All that is there is the result of a lot of research – I apologize if I’ve managed to misinterpret anything. In any case, my sources state that medieval knights did not ride their warhorses on long journeys; it would have taken its toll on both, rider and horse. Aside from war and tournaments, they rode palfreys.


~~~

CHAPTER 09 – THÉODRED THE BRAVE

When Faramir woke in the next morn, Boromir was gone. He was weary still, but the closeness of his brother had helped him to get over the terrifying dream – as always, Boromir had protected him, even from his own fear – and now he felt like roaming Lord Forlong’s town, seeing new, exciting things and meeting new people.

Liahan, his grandsire’s page, brought him some breakfast.

“You have missed first meal,” the boy said. “Lord Boromir left orders that you be allowed to sleep late and given something to eat when you awake on your own. The servants have prepared a bath for you, but you must hurry up if you want to go with the others.”

“Where to?” asked Faramir, digging into his breakfast with the ever-present hunger of every thirteen-year-old.

“Prince Elphir and little Lady Morwen wanted to go down to the Old Bridge,” told him Liahan. “The people of Rohan will be coming, soon; their messenger has already arrived. Prince Théodred himself is coming with them, they say, and other nobles from Théoden-king’s court.”

That perspective made Faramir eat even faster – so fast, indeed, that he would pay for it with a most unpleasant belly-ache later in the morning – just to be finished and able to join the others on the walls. He had met Prince Théodred the Brave but once, during a visit of the royal court of Rohan in Minas Tirith. But he knew that Boromir and the Prince had been childhood friends, back when the old queen of Rohan had still been alive and they visited their kin in Lossarnach more often. In truth, there were even family ties between the House of the Stewards and that of Eorl, however thin ones. The late Queen, Théodred’s grandmother had been a cousin of Lord Lorindol, the husband of Denethor’s eldest sister, the Lady Faelivrin.

They could hardly be called blood kin anymore, and the closeness between Edoras and Minas Tirith was based on the Oath of Eorl and on the long time the late Thengel-king, Théodred’s grandsire, had spent in Gondor. Nonetheless, it was a good, solid alliance, and both sides liked to emphasize the family connection – more so as in the eyes of the Rohirrim family ties were considered stronger than any other bond, including the most solemn oath sworn to one’s King.

Boromir had always spoken of the Prince of Rohan as one would speak of a brother or of a very dear friend. Thus it was understandable that Faramir wanted to meet him again and to know him better. Anyone whom Boromir considered a friend was good enough for him.

He could barely restrain his impatience with the mundane tasks of eating, bathing and getting dressed properly, but he knew that a flawless appearance was expected from him. He was the son of the Steward and the grandson of Prince Adrahil, after all. Thus he went through his morning discipline with forced patience, asked his grandsire to find a safe place for his newly-acquired, precious books, and then practically burst out of their rooms to find the others. Not even Madenn’s still lingering anger did bother him too much.

To his great relief, Madenn seemed to pay no attention to him at all. She was particularly lovely today, even more so than on the previous day or on the day before, clad in dark blue and gold silks, girdled with a chain of golden roses low on her hip. Her dark blonde hair was swept up in a dozen shining braids, coiled in a filigree net and bound in a gold circlet stud with small gemstones. She seemed every bit as excited as the children, and could barely wait to go down to the Old Bridge.

“Does she know anyone from the royal court of Rohan?” Boromir, who had chosen to wait for the horse-lords at the bridge, too, asked his newly found friend.

Herumor shrugged.

“You are asking the wrong cousin, my friend. I have not been to Uncle Forlong’s court for years – ever since I began my training in Dol Amroth. But if the ladies-in-waiting of my current aunt can be trusted, Prince Théodred has visited his kin in Lossarnach surprisingly often in the recent years. And every time he came, he chose to stay in Uncle’s house.”

Boromir glanced at Madenn who was all but glowing with beauty and expectation. Had his friend Théodred fallen for Forlong’s golden daughter, it would certainly be understandable. Yet he also knew that such a bond would never be permitted. The Rohirrim generally accepted illegitimate children just as easily as the Old Folk, but the Heir of the crown was a different matter.

“Have you tried to ask her sister?” he asked Herumor.

The young knight-to-be shook his head.

“It would do no good. Madenn and Achren have put their differences aside and sworn an unbreakable alliance on the very day the Lady Almaren first set foot in Uncle’s house. They would guard each other’s secrets with their life, if need must be.”

Boromir remembered the Lady Almaren’s determined face and what he had heard about old Lady Achren, Forlong’s mother, and he shuddered, imagining the merciless fight for power the ladies of Forlong’s House must be carrying out, behind the smiling, polite surface of a well-bred noble family.

“Your uncle is not to be envied,” he said with deep feeling.

But Herumor just laughed.

“Oh, you need not to worry about Uncle,” he said. “He is tougher than cooked swine-hides. Although,” he added honestly, “I am grateful that my father decided to lead a more peaceful household, instead of re-marrying several times, taking a younger wife at every new wedding. Oh, look… there they come!”

And indeed, the company of Prince Théodred could already be seen, crossing the lower town and riding up to the bridge. An entire éored, as it suited a crown prince: one hundred and four tall, golden-haired men in shining chain mails and elaborate helmets, carrying long spears and riding on dappled grey palfreys, so similar in appearance that they must have been hand-picked for just this particular éored.

A standard-bearer rode in front of the troop, carrying the green banner of the Riddermark with the white horse upon it – this had been the emblem of the Kings of Rohan since the days of Eorl the Young, as only the mearas among the magnificent horses of the Mark were truly white.

Two such noble beasts could be seen in the group: a great war-horse, ridden by the Crown Prince himself, and a beautiful little mare that carried a golden-haired girl of about fifteen summers. The girl rode her mare in the fashion of men, wearing a split-skirted kirtle; her touch on the rein was light and her seat in the saddle graceful. One could see that she had been used to horses since early childhood, and the running horse embroidered beautifully in white and gold upon her kirtle revealed that she must have been related to the royal family.

“She rides well, for a girl of her age,” judged Boromir, impressed by the girl’s undeniable skills. “Who could she be?”

“Perchance young Lady Idis, the daughter of Théoden-king,” replied Herumor. “Madenn mentioned that she has been introduced to the royal court a year ago – no small feat for the orphaned daughter of a mere serving woman. But they say Théoden-king loves her nearly as much as Uncle loves Madenn; and that Prince Théodred looks at her as his little sister, too. One day, she will be married off to one of the powerful ealdormen of the Mark, strengthening her father’s rule, even though she has been born in the wrong bed.”

“And what about Madenn?” asked Boromir.

Herumor shrugged.

“You know that things in Rohan are different,” he said. “No matter what the customs of the Old Folk are, no noble family of Gondor would accept her as they would accept a legitimate daughter… and the Lady Almaren lets her feel that every day. She would do better marrying a decent craftsman, but who of those would dare to approach Lord Forlong’s daughter? She will have a lonely life – unless she chooses to leave Lossarnach to begin a new life somewhere where no-one knows her.”

Boromir nodded in agreement. Bastard sons and daughters did not have it easy in Gondor. They stood between all ranks, not truly belonging anywhere. He wondered if Théodred had considered this ere he had taken Forlong’s daughter as his lover – if that was a fact and Madenn was not just pining after him in hopeless love. For there could be no doubt about her feelings for the Crown Prince of Rohan – her face was positively glowing as she watched the approach of the proud horse-lords.

In the meantime, the Rohirrim had reached the bridge, and now their singing could be heard up to the wall where Boromir and the others were watching. They sang in their own tongue, which Boromir understood a little though he did not speak it well. It sounded like the roaring of the wind over the endless green fields of Calenardhon.

Swylce if waes on Mundburh mid Brego
se haefde moncynnes mine gefraege
leohteste hond lofes to wyrcenne
heortan uhneaweste hringa gedales,
beorhta beaga, bearn Eorlinga.


Boromir leaned over the wall, trying to get a closer look at the pair of Riders that were flanking Théodred and his young sister. They both rode big, blue roan warhorses, which was against custom on such long journeys, and – alone from the entire company – did not have golden hair.

One of them was a powerfully-built man in his prime, wearing the emblem of Clan Ethias upon his shield: the silver fist on red, in honour of the most famous member of their clan, Helm Hammerhand, ninth King of Rohan and last of his line. The other one, though tall and proud as well, was obviously a woman – the peculiar shaping of her breastplate gave her away at once. Her shield was lozenge-shaped and plain green, with a black and a silver arrow fastened upon it, crossing each other. The same symbol adorned her helm.

“A shieldmaiden?” asked Boromir in surprise. “I did not know they still had them in Rohan.”

“There are not many of them left, I am told,” replied Herumor, “yet the way is open for every free-born woman still. Few are willing to take the hardness of shieldmaiden training upon themselves, though.”

“Do you know who she is?” Boromir nodded in the direction of the shieldmaiden riding on Princess Idis’ side.

“Well, the man is obviously Erkenbrand, the Lord of the Westfold,” said Herumor. “No-one else wears the silver fist upon his shield. Therefore the shieldmaiden could only be his eldest daughter, the Lady Aud-of-the-deep-eyes, as she is called among her own people.”

“But why would she come to your knighting?” asked Boromir. “I knew not that your father had such a close alliance with the Rohirrim.”

“We have not,” Herumor laughed, “nor has she come because of my knighting. She has come to take part of the tournament.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
End note:
The song of the Rohirrim is based on the ancient English poem Widsith; I only changed a few names (and probably messed up the grammar in the process).

It means the following:
“I was in Mundburg (= Minas Tirith) with Brego: of all men of whom I have heard he had the hand most ready for deeds of praise, the heart least niggard in the giving of rings, of shining armlets, the son of Eorl.”

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