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Tales Told in Rohan

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‘In a hole in the ground there lived a holbytla’, began Theodwyn, her children snuggled up against her.

‘What are holbytlan, mother?’ asked Eomer.

‘They’re small folk that dwell in holes in sand-dunes, just as the name says. They avoid men, usually. They can vanish in a twinkling and change their voice to resemble the piping of birds.’

Eowyn clapped her hands, eyes shining.

‘How can I find them, mother?’

‘They’re just a story’, said Eomer, with brotherly superiority.

‘No, they aren’t! Are they, mother? I believe in them!’ said Eowyn. ‘One day I’ll speak to one, Eomer, you’ll see!’

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‘Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by.’

‘Well spoken!’ cried Eothain, as Gleowine paused in his tale.

Eowyn nodded uncertainly in agreement. Then she saw Theodred frowning to himself.

‘The dwarves had insulted Fram, hadn't they?’ she asked him, later. ‘They should have been grateful! He had slain the dragon and so they could live in peace! Instead they treated him like a robber! Didn’t he deserve recompense for his bravery?’

‘He did,’ said Theodred. ‘But I wish he had returned at least some of the hoard to them.’


‘Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries...’

Thorin well remembered the tale told of deeds of old in the Grey Mountains: how his kin had asked for their own and received only mockery in reply. Bitter was the mourning of those who had lost family to Scatha and now reaped jeers to sweeten their loss.

So he viewed the dragon-slayer before his gates with a jaundiced eye. Another Northman—no better than Fram had been!

‘What share of their inheritance would you have paid to our kindred, had you found the hoard unguarded and us slain?

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'It is too far, Eomund', counselled Theodwyn. 'You will be too late to prevent them and you may be cut off without succour. Do not ride out!'

But Eomund went nevertheless and little Eowyn watched during the long hours as Theodwyn dispatched messenger after messenger--to the householders nearby, to lords of the Eastemnet, to her brother at Edoras--and began to receive the reports of scouts.

At dusk, Eowyn's mother stood by the gate with clenched fists--and although her mother said nothing, Eowyn knew she had wanted to ride out with sword and shield after Eomund, regardless of the cost.

***

'Word came from Dunharrow, dark news they brought, and Folca dashed his cup to the floor, swearing he would hunt none but orcs until he had fully avenged the death of his father...'

The tale went on but Eowyn's eyes filled with tears--for the grief of kings of old-- for her father's death and her mother's.

She felt Grima's eyes on her. Until that moment, she had counted him a friend, but something about his gaze disturbed her. Suddenly, for a reason she could not quite fathom, tears felt like a weakness. She shielded herself, lifted her chin high.

*** 

'You must not call her the Sorceress of the Golden Wood!' said Morwen of Lossarnach. 'She is Galadriel, a princess of the Noldor, and her husband is a Sinda. Do not the Rohirrim themselves say she summoned a fog to be a shield to Eorl's eastern flank when he rode from the North?'

Eowyn listened carefully; her grandmother was not as learned as Lord Denethor, but she could teach much history not well known in Rohan.

When she fell silent, Eowyn asked: 'So she left her home across the Sea to come to Middle-earth and fight, this princess?'

*** 

Eowyn listened to songs of valiant women in the North, when Frumgar drove out the followers of the Witch King of Angmar east of the Mountains.

'Why do they not have names?' she asked Gleowine, but she saw that her question puzzled him, so she asked Morwen instead.

'The songs speak of Frumgar and Fram, of Leod and Eorl. But when they speak of shield maids, there are no names...'

'I don't know why,' said Morwen, interested. 'Maybe they gave up their name to become shield maids?'

'But why? I would want everyone to know my name,' said Eowyn.