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Out of Doubt
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March 15, 3019

'Death, death, death! Death take us all!'

Death, it seems, has given heed to my call. Death surrounds me now, claiming friend and foe with equal caprice, and I - fool that I am - I have become death's instrument. 'Death! Ride, ride to ruin...!' I had sounded the call, and with one fell voice the Eorlingas had answered.

'So, my young will you get out of this mess?'

So often had you spoken these words that it scarce requires imagining now. Oh, Théodred! How I would that the kingly standard that ripples e'en now in the wind had passed into your steady hands. You were the king who should have been, yet fate's cruel fortune has placed me in your stead.

Aye, and the wind that once I blessed has become our foe, billowing the black sails of yon accursed fleet. Horns from the walls of Mundburg sound the retreat, but there is no retreat for the Riders of the Mark. Betrayed by my own battle fury we find ourselves cut off; our enemies flow like a river around us, their blood lust quickened at the sight of that which speaks to us of naught but despair.

Yet I look at them, these warriors of the Mark who stand tall and resolute before the standard of their king, and my heart swells with pride. All will stand and fight, with hope or no, and I hear myself laugh. Yes, I will laugh in the face of despair, for have we not faced defeat and ruin before? A strange fate has made me king, lord of a fell people, and tho 'tis likely I shall be the last, we will do such deeds this day as songs are made of, tho none be left to remember.

Defiantly my sword is raised...but wait! I cast my sword up into the sunlight as wonder turns to joy at what my eyes behold; out of the shadows of death, carried on the wings of morning, a legend rises once more before my wondering eyes. There on the lead vessel, unfurled upon the twice blessed wind, flies the great standard that none but the rightful lord of Gondor may display.

Song bursts from my lips as my sword is caught in my outstretched hand.

'Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun...'

Author's note: Yes, I know in the book Éomer "spoke these staves" before he recognized Aragorn's standard, but Tolkien didn't say exactly what Éomer sang as he caught his sword, so I'm fudging it just a bit in the hope that it's not inappropriate to use them as I have here.

*For a broader view of this scene see LotR: RotK: Book Five: Chapter VI - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


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