Théodred's Last Command
This is a short vignette about Prince Théodred's death. During my reading of the HoME books, I discovered more information about Prince Théodred and what happened at the First Battle at the Fords of the Isen. I am using the official version, rather than the 'Hollywood' version Peter Jackson shot. Éomer did not ride to Edoras with a wounded Théodred. Éomer wasn't even at the battle.
(Rohan, February 26, shortly before dawn)
"Like a thousand other commanders on a thousand other battlefields, I wait for the dawn." The Lord Elfhelm surveyed the carnage the night's work had wrought. Dawn was more than an hour away, yet already the sky had begun to lighten in the East.
The First Battle at the Fords of the Isen was over. Brave warriors of the Mark lay scattered about the battlefield, dead or dying. The orcs had withdrawn as quickly as they had attacked, a fact that puzzled all those who remained alive and relatively unscathed. The Enemy's army had been winning; why, then, had it withdrawn when victory and the annihilation of its foes were so close at hand?
The battle had been a costly one for the Rohirrim. Not only were many of the Mark's best warriors dead, the battle had deprived the land's people of their beloved Prince.
(Rohan, February 25, approximately 11 p.m.)
Théodred lay dying, his royal blood watering the ground upon which he rested. Elfhelm knelt beside his fallen commander, head bowed in sorrow. Captain Grimbold sat upon the cold ground, the head of his fallen Prince cradled tenderly in his lap. A ring of somber warriors surrounded the trio. Some wept openly and unashamedly; others stood stoic and silent, their helms off in a show of respect for their dying leader.
Théodred attempted to raise his head, his mouth striving to form words he no longer had the strength to utter. He extended one bloodied hand toward Elfhelm, who gripped it tightly.
"Rest, my Prince. The healer will be here soon." Elfhelm's voice cracked with raw emotion, for he knew that no healer in Middle-earth could mend the devastating wounds the orcs had inflicted upon the Second Marshal of the Mark.
Théodred finally managed to speak a few strangled words. "It is too late."
Elfhelm raised his shaggy head and said softly, "We shall take you back to Edoras. A prince you may be, but you shall be buried as a King." Théodred shook his head almost imperceptivity, a motion that cost him great pain. He cried out and tightened his grip on Elfhelm's hand until he was able to speak.
"Nay, Elfhelm," the Prince said in a voice so soft that the warrior had to place an ear to the dying man's lips. "Leave me where I lie. I shall remain here until Éomer comes. We must hold the Fords. This is my final command." Elfhelm nodded, but it was a motion Théodred did not see through the blackness that enveloped him.
As the Riders of the Mark watched in silence, their Prince drew a last, shuddering breath and fell limply into Grimbold's solid embrace. Théoden's only son was dead.
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