Memorial Day Challenge Ficlet written for the Henneth Annun Yahoo group.
Elfhelm of Rohan remembers Théodred, son of Theoden King.
I do what they cannot. I close my eyes to a breeze that brushes my face like warm, silken wings. I breathe the fragrance of damp meadows and wildflowers and the warm spice of the horse shifting drowsily beneath me. I feel sun on my skin and leather between my knees and the latent power of a good mount waiting there.
Here, I live. Where my Prince fell and Grimbold and I hewed the vile foe but to no avail, for here is where Théodred and so many others died. As I held his broken body in my arms, he spoke with his last breath: "Let me lie here - to keep the Fords until Éomer come!" But Éomer never came. The snake in the king's house even then whispered his evil lies and Éomer himself was nearly lost to us.
Night fell and we knew not if day would ever come again. Yet the Isengarders vanished, for the deed was done. We waited in darkness with sword and spear, and grieving we tended to our slain and wounded. Here in that dread silence we laid our prince to rest until Éomer or the end came to us.
They returned later, a black flood cloaked in fire, and upon these green fields where flowers now nod bright faces among the grasses, we were beset by Isengard's worst. Wargs and Uruks and hatred unbridled, these smashed against us and my horsemen were pressed back, back that we might live, and my heart despaired for brave Grimbold beyond my reach in fell darkness. I clung to the desperate hope that he could hold; that he could withdraw from the Fords and live to fight another day. Wolfriders prowled and wargs howled and we waited for the cheerless grey of dawn, or death.
Dawn found us and from it rode hope unexpected, Gandalf whom some called Stormcrow, but he brought us new light. Théoden our King rode forth! Théoden King led the Riddermark to victory, or to such a death as the winds themselves would sing of it, if no living tongues remained to give it voice. So it was I turned weary horses and men towards Edoras, to guard, to wait, to bide what fate would bring. But ever in my mind was a grave at the Fords, my Prince, waiting.
Do you know the peace that lingers now, dear lord? Do you hear the sweet trill of little birds on the downs and the long, gentle sigh of a slow south wind?
A press of leg turns my horse away and down the long grassy slope. Forward we surge in growing speed as if falling into the wind and we are flying now, flying across the great curve of the earth on the very wings of freedom, and hooves drum the beat of my heart. Sleep well, my prince, for we must believe that no loss, however bitter, was entirely in vain. Sleep, while we live on for you.