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A Tale from the Riddermark
And their long fight against Shadow

By ErinRua

A cold, cruel wind blew from the West
as 'neath the stars grim shadows crept;
'twas Isengard's dark minions in the night.
Forth they came to put to sword
both Rider, wife, and newly born,
and graybeard sleeping in their honest beds.

But rose they ere the first stroke fell
to sound the horn and battle-yell;
and bright swords flashed in leaping firelight.
Fierce they fought, but hearts despaired
of what would pass when sunrise bared
the faces of the living and the dead.

For though their walls were stoutly made
and gallant was the fight they gave
the Enemy pressed ravening and strong.
Thus from the stable standing near
they drew a colt with sharp black ears
and lifted to his back a nimble lad.

"Ride you hard to Erkenbrand!"
A spear was pressed to boyish hand;
"We'll hold 'til aid returns - now fly, be gone!"
Withawill the colt was named,
and to the ways of men untrained,
but now he bore the only hope they had.

The bridle rein was never drawn,
nor pace slowed in the blackened dawn
as forth they rode, though arrows sought their flight.
A half-grown youth, an untried horse
in darkness raced the watercourse;
and in them beat the blood of ancient days.

Peak and river lay between
and broken ground lay traps unseen,
as on they sped amid the moonless night.
Steep and black the gorges fell,
and thorns threw hidden snares, as well,
before the reckless gallop of their way.

Yet stumbled not the lank grey colt,
nor rider felt a fumbling jolt,
as swift they flew on wings of direst need.
Where stone lay sharp as bursted glass
the mountain let the rider pass;
like shadow down the meadowlands they speed.

Long and long they came at last
to Erkenbrand upon the pass,
the stumbling colt with foam from hip to knee.
"My father bids -." the lad then spoke,
and gasped his kinfolk's desperate hope,
ere horse and boy fell senseless at their feet.

As rivers thunder fierce in flood
so Riders rode to blood for blood,
and dawn found vict'ry smiling at the door.
The message sent had turned the day,
and many asked wherein he lay;
what gallant soul had made this desperate ride?

And yet the boy spoke not his name,
but asked instead they lay the fame
upon the gaunt grey colt who brought him forth.
Nay, seek him not on far green hills,
for he is gone, but lauded still;
bold Withawill, the son of Pretty Flight.


Author's Note: I realize this does not take any of the accepted forms of poetry normally attributed to Tolkien's treatment of Rohirrim tales and ballads. But who is to say that this tale was recorded by a Rohirrim at all? Perhaps a hobbit recorded the story in his own simple verse ...


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