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29 February 3019

Let me lie here—to keep the Fords till Éomer comes!
She opens her eyes to the dim grey light, although she does not remember having slept. Through the window she can see the cold blanket of cloud that has been there—will always be there—for weeks, months.

he is gone

She wonders if there will even be a funeral, or if Théodred's passing will go unremarked in the march to disaster, one more stone tumbling in the avalanche.

She wonders when the next stone will fall—when news of Éomer's death will reach the Hall.

With sudden resolve she rises from the bed and hastily dresses, not in the finery of court, but in her practice garb, castoffs from her brother that she remade to fit herself with needle and thread. Walking across the terrace and down to the stables and yards below, she does not see the cook's boy's furtive glance, nor the disapproving frown of the old midwife.

The yard is empty, every man and boy fit to wield a blade already filling some post. She begins with the familiar exercises—balance feet apart knees bent shoulders square head up thrust parry balance—but rushes through, eager to reach some resolution. Steel coming down through flesh, ending...

The rain begins to fall, again, wetting the heavy mud of the yard. She stops to wipe her brow and tighten the tie on her hair. Some movement above the wall catches her eye and she turns, but no one can be seen.

lunge cut spring back lunge balance

Her feet seem stuck to the earth and yet she cannot get a firm foothold.

stay light balance head up

Éomer said battle oft rides the wind of weather—one cannot stop to wait for sunny skies.

But, says the dark voice, the time to use a blade will come under roof, in shadowed corner or empty passage, not in the open, sun or rain. No witness, no glory, no hope of victory.

She spins and stops, breath coming far too quickly.

Begin again—balance feet apart knees bent shoulders square head up thrust parry balance—the rain solidifies into sleet and stings her face—thrust parry balance—she catches her heel on a clod of heavy clay and stumbles.

She thinks of the King, when told the news. He did not weep, he did not even speak, he only seemed to shrink further, spine curling, eyes dimmed yet more. Defeated already.

Wildly she hews at the air, artless and reckless, anger usurping skill, until her arms shake and strain and her fingers lose their grip.

If I have not the strength even to lift a weapon, then indeed I have nothing left.


Note: The first line is a quote from Unfinished Tales, Theodred's last words.


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