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Trust To Hope

Chapter 2: Chapter One

by Novedhelion

Title: Trust to Hope - Chapter One
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel
Rating: PG for now…

Warnings: None, really. Mild violence, if you consider killing Orcs
violent...Elvish translations at the bottom...I do not claim to be
fluent. This is FICTION.

Beta: Riyallyn and Zee

Disclaimer: I am not J.R.R. Tolkien. I used and abused his
characters. Eleníon is mine. I don't intend to make any profit
here. It will be a waste of time to sue me, I have no money. I
tried to follow canon where possible but did take some artistic
license. If PJ can banish Éomer so can I.

Feedback: This is my first attempt at Fanfic. Fire away. (That is not a request for flames, however…maybe I should rephrase…)

*************
Part One
*************

“One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it.”
French Proverb


Firien Wood
Rohan
16 Nínui, 3019 T.A.
***********************

The marshal looked around at the men surrounding him. His men. His company. His éored. Still loyal to him, even after he had been banished from the Kingdom of Rohan. Éomer had threatened the king's councilor, Gríma Wormtongue, certain he was consorting with the enemy. He had paid for his boldness with his citizenship.

Somehow, he had to find a way to rid the king of that foul influence and rescue his sister. He laughed out loud at that last thought. More than likely it would be Gríma who needed rescuing from her! No, Éowyn could take care of herself, of that he was certain. Still, that did not do much to relieve his concern for his only sibling. If Théodred died, which had seemed likely considering the wounds he received, and Théoden King’s health failing rapidly, Éowyn would be left to inherit the throne. The thought of her left alone with that snake made his fists tighten involuntarily around the reins he held.

He turned to Éothain, his second in command. "I want to check out those woods. The villagers in that last settlement believe there may be Orcs hiding out there. They have lost several horses lately. You and Dormand come with me. Tell the others to set up camp here."

The other tall rider nodded in affirmation. Galloping off, he spoke briefly with another man and they joined the marshal, heading into the woods.

Anhuil knelt by the side of the stream, rinsing her hair in the cold water. She splashed some on her face and looked around. “Where in Middle Earth have we ended up, Elenion?” she inquired of her canine companion. “I cannot say I recall these woods on the map, but considering the map is in the saddle bag on the horse we left behind, I suppose I cannot check, now can I?” The animal regarded her silently. “I suppose I owe you, my friend. If you had not been with me, I am certain they would have found me. Good thing there were not more of them.”

She sighed, sitting back on her heels. “Unfortunately they also took our food, which means one of us is going to have to find something to eat unless you want to live on waybread.” She chuckled and scratched him behind the ears.

The wolf at her side suddenly jumped to his feet, staring with wide brown eyes down the river.

"Man cenich?" she asked him, peering down the bank. It was almost dark, and difficult to see. The wolf growled a warning low in his throat. “Orcs?” His gaze stayed focused down the river.

"All right…come on." The princess stood, grabbing her small bag, and jogged toward the trees lining the bank, Elenion right behind her. She could hear the sounds now, the horse's hooves making soft sounds on the mud, the soft clinking of armor, the voices. Not Orc voices.

She sighed. “Bloody men...” she muttered under her breath. The last thing she wanted to find out here. More men. She would almost rather take on the Orcs again.

Quickly scrambling behind a nearby tree, she positioned herself where she could watch them without being seen, thankful for the evergreens in the underbrush. She pulled the hood of her cloak up over the still damp curls. From her position, she observed the men on horses making their way down the overgrown trail along the stream.

The men were moving cautiously, warily. The marshal sat tall in his saddle, lance in hand, eyes darting around the surrounding brush. Their breath formed a cloudy mist in the chilly air. It was a quiet, still evening, the only sounds being the cold water of the stream babbling past them and the occasional whickering of their own mounts. They urged their horses forward, toward a clearing near the stream and dismounted their steeds. Shoving their long spears into the ground, they led their horses to the crystal water, hands ready on the hilts of their swords.

Anhuil studied them in the rapidly fading light. They were definitely men, armed with swords and pikes, their mail armor making soft clinking sounds as they moved about. Burnished green shields hung on their saddles, emblazoned with a golden sunburst. They spoke softly to their mounts, in a language she did not understand. Rohirrim. The Horse Lords. She had read a little about the kingdom of Rohan in the library at Minas Tirith. Had she really come that far?


Éomer looked around as his horse bent his head to drink. His skin prickled. Something did not feel right, as if they were being watched. But by whom? He drew in a deep breath of chilly air, exhaling slowly. Sometimes he wondered if he overreacted, his hatred of the foul creatures that had killed his father blurring his judgment. He glanced around at the other men.

Dormand stood still, listening. Éothian was looking around suspiciously, hand on his sword. Éomer drew his own, the sound of the metal clearing the sheath very soft in the still of the evening air.

Loud cries suddenly pierced the quiet of the night. The sounds of steel clashing against steel made her jump. Still behind the tree, she saw the Orcs bearing down on the men. Crouching low to the ground, the princess ran along the bank behind the brush, trying to observe the skirmish without being seen. Peering through the trees, she counted seven. Seven against three. The same Orcs that had taken her mount, she noted angrily. Fear mounting, she ducked behind the trunk of a nearby tree, her heart pounding so loud in her ears she could barely hear the clanging of swords.

Daring to peek around the tree, she saw the tallest man locked in a duel, backing his enemy up the riverbank. His sword skill was impressive, and he would have soundly defeated his foe if two others were not coming from behind. Skilled or not, it was clear he was outnumbered. She looked around for his companions, who were locked duels of their own. Her heart raced. She hated Orcs, even more so after her own confrontation with them, but she did not relish the thought of being drawn into another battle with them.

It was dark. If she could do it without being seen... Hands shaking, she drew her bow. As he turned his attention to the enemy nearest to him, she stepped from her hiding place along the bank. Drawing a deep breath as well as the bowstring, she steadied her hands as much as possible and released one arrow. The Orc behind the marshal slumped to the mud, her small arrow protruding from the back of the leather jerkin it wore. She whispered a curse as the bowstring snapped against her hand. Shoving the useless weapon back into her quiver, she yanked her dagger from the sheath.

The marshal turned from the Orc he had just slain, the whizzing of an arrow catching him off guard. He watched as the Orc behind him dropped to the ground. His look of confusion was quickly replaced by fury as a third Orc saw him from downstream and turned toward him, weapon raised, growling. As he raised his own sword, something glimmered in the moonlight. The last Orc stopped in his tracks, falling face down in the shallow water, several paces away. Éomer saw a shadow scurry to the last fallen Orc, retrieve a dagger from its back and disappear into the darkness along the bank.

"Wait!" he shouted in the common tongue. He saw the shadow leap up the bank and into the underbrush. Followed by his companions, he ran toward the shadows. He stopped at the edge of the brush, peering into the darkness where she had disappeared.

"What happened?" Dormand asked, squinting as he looked into the undergrowth, shrouded now by the darkness as the sun disappeared. Moonlight filtered through the leafless trees, but the dense evergreen shrubbery kept its secrets.

The marshal shook his head, as if unsure. "I think…." His voice trailed off as he looked down the riverbank. He turned to look at his companions. “Someone…or something…just saved my life." Éomer looked down at the dead Orcs she had slain, laying on the riverbank. He walked over to the one with the arrow sticking out of its back, knelt beside it. Pulling on the arrow, he broke it off and studied the fletching in the dim light. He kicked at the dead Orc.

The princess leaped up into the brush and ducked behind a tree, breathing so hard the chilly air making her lungs ache. Forcing herself to take slow, deep breaths, she sat perfectly still, praying he did not come after her.

Éothain and Dormand rode over to where he stood, leading Éomer’s dappled grey mount, Firefoot. “What is that?" Dormand inquired, seeing the arrow in his hand. "An arrow? Where did that come from?"

The marshal shook his head. "I am not sure. Someone else around here has no love for Orcs." He started to toss it aside, but placed it in his belt instead. He kicked at the dead one again, flipping it over. Walking to the other one, he could see the black blood trickling from the knife wound in its back.

“Everyone else around here hates Orcs,” Dormand muttered. "Who was it?”

Éomer peered into the dark woods again. "I do not know. Whoever it was went up there." He gestured up into the dark underbrush. He strode up the sandy bank to the edge of the wood.

“Come out!” he called, “We will not harm you.”

There was no response. Anhuil squatted behind the shrubbery, her back against a tall pine. She covered her mouth with both hands and tried to breathe in the warmer air. Her lungs felt as if they would burst, her pulse pounding in her ears.

Éomer stood, staring into the darkness among the trees. Part of him wanted to find his anonymous benefactor, but the logical side won out. He had already escaped one scrape today. Best not to go dashing through dark woods at night. Whoever it was, they appeared to be on his side.

“Come,” he called to the men. “We ride north at daybreak.”

Leaping astride his horse, turning back downstream. He looked back over his shoulder. Nothing but the clear stream, rippling in the moonlight.

Anhuil closed her eyes, silently thanking the Valar that they did not pursue her. The last thing she needed was to get caught and sent back home. Not on the last link of Melkor's chain was she going back home. She'd take her chances with the Orcs.

Once they had disappeared into the distance, she carefully made her way out into the darkness and bent over the side of the stream. Anhuil rinsed the foul blood from her dagger, her hands still trembling. Pulling a small piece of embroidered cloth from under her cloak, she dried the blade and looked down at it, gleaming in the moonlight. She didn't like killing, and in fact, she never had killed anything more than a few small animals, and then only when hunting had become necessary. But Orcs… she shivered involuntarily. Shaking off the thought, she peered downstream after the riders.

Pulling her bow from her quiver, she frowned. Her brothers had always chided her about proper weapon care, and here she was with a broken bowstring. At least she had managed one of the Orcs with an arrow before resorting to her dagger. Digging a spare string from the bottom of the quiver, she quickly restrung her bow and replaced it in the quiver.

She turned at the sound of soft padded feet on the sand. Eleníon sauntered out of the underbrush and lazily drank from the stream, brown eyes regarding her in the moonlight.

“Mae athollen,” she snapped sarcastically at him. “Mas ledhiach? It would have been far better if you had killed those Orcs. They would not have thought twice about a wolf.” The wolf moved closer to her, and she buried her fingers in his scruffy neck. “Naethen. I do not mean to scold you so.” Anhuil let her gaze fall down the river again. “Perhaps he will just accept his good fortune and be done with it, huh?" She patted his head and stood, still looking downstream.

"I wonder if there are more of them," the princess pondered out loud as she glanced down at the wolf. Large brown eyes looked up at her questioningly. "I guess there is only one way to find out. Come on."

Careful to avoid detection, she followed the tracks of the horses downstream. From time to time, the terrain became rocky and the horses were forced to go further up on to the grassy parts of the bank, but it was easy enough to find the tracks again when they returned to the soft dirt alongside the stream.

Their prints led out of the wood and to a large campsite in the distance. Anhuil watched from behind a tree as they approached their camp and dismounted their horses, disappearing into the throng of men at the campsite.

The man had said they would ride north. That was her general direction before she was lost. Perhaps following them would put her back on her path. She considered trying to pass the camp and get ahead of them, but without her mount, they would soon overtake her. It was better to stay behind them if she didn't want to be discovered. Sinking down on the cushiony moss at the base of a tree, she mulled over the past weeks.

Leaving home had been an impulsive decision for sure, but what choice had they left her? She did feel a twinge of guilt for leaving Cam behind to deal with the aftermath. Her father would be furious, but then again, so was she. How dare he decide for her whom she would spend the rest of her life with? And that insufferable, egotistical son of a snake he had chosen?

No, she could not go back. Not yet. Undoubtedly her father sent riders out in search of her, but hopefully they would give up and turn back. She had ridden almost non-stop the first three days, putting as much distance as possible between herself and her home.

There had been inns along the way, and never a shortage of folks in the common rooms with whom to exchange stories. A few had even given her a room and a meal in exchange for a few stories and songs from her, never knowing whom it was they were sheltering, and fortunately they were not prone to asking too many questions. It wasn’t that she couldn’t pay for accommodations; she had brought enough coins along, but she dared not refuse their hospitality and risk insulting them. More than once she wished she had her harp, as playing it was the one courtly pursuits she had enjoyed.

She chuckled at the thought. Her brothers had always teased her about her fascination with the court glirdans, or bards, learning their stories and songs, but the history and legends they told had intrigued her, and she had committed most to memory. New tales and songs she recorded in her journal, along with drawings of places and people she met in her travels.

Yes, the inns had been nice, but seemed far scarcer in this forsaken country in which she was now lost. What she wouldn’t give for a hot bath, a warm bed, and a good meal beside a cozy common room fire this evening. She had not even seen so much as a lone farm in two days. But the men had mentioned a village nearby. Perhaps she would check there tomorrow.

Fortune would have it that it had been a mild winter so far, and until tonight her only run in with Orcs had been the ones who had stolen her horse. Anhuil smiled smugly to herself at having vindicated that attack. She may have lost her mount, but what she had gained in confidence made the loss pale in comparison.

Opening her journal on her lap, she dug out the quill and ink, recording the evening’s events in a smooth, flowing script. As an afterthought, she added a sketch of the sunburst symbol that had appeared on the shields of the Rohirrim.

In the camp, Éomer glanced back toward the woods as he dismounted his horse. Something, or someone out there had saved his life. He pulled out the arrow and studied it carefully. It was a small wooden arrow, fletched at the end with blue and white feathers, skillfully made. Whoever it was, he was grateful.



Man cenich? - What do you see?
Mammen le? - Where were you?
Mani na umien? - What have you been doing?

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Chapter One
Created
20 Jan 2004
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20 Jan 2004
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