EOWYN IS DEAD

         by Thalia Weaver

It is not a battle. They all know it, moving with the charge, a tide of horses—and some fallen already, even before they meet the ranks of orcs. It is a massacre. To die against the darkness! Some would dream of this glory, some thirst for it; others only wish to make the world safe for home, and bread, and beer, and waking beside the ones they love the best. Here on the battlefield, it is all the same. She knows some that have fallen—before this battle, and now—and she can smell their blood on the air. The cry of "Death!" still echoes in her ears, death, yes—death! Cry for it. Kill for it. Blood on her spear, on her sword, on the helmet that conceals her. She had to turn away from her King...

She does not think now of those she had abandoned. It is too late now to turn from the charge—the last charge of the Rohirrim, maybe; none think that they will survive; this is suicide, this charge. She sweeps her sword in an avenging arc and cuts down those unfortunate orcs that get in her path—and Merry cries out, lifting his own sword.

She holds him tight, one arm around his waist. The hobbit would be killed as soon as looked at on this field. She feels a moment of sympathy—what, here, a different field than the green ones of the Shire, and the dead all around and no kinsmen to see him fall—and then all thought is lost in the swirl of the battlefield. Here all is gone, all jealousies, all small and petty emotions. Here there is only her and death, the dim forms of enemies, the cries, the blood, the spear, the sword. This is to live for—just before death comes.

Not to think of those left behind—women, children, men too old to lift their spears. She hides behind the helm—Dernhelm; she is not Eowyn now, defender of the weak and weak herself, not fighting, never fighting, weak, a woman only—she is a man, she fights as one, the rasp of chainmail and the death cry—no cries of children here, only the yells of men cut down and cutting down—she has left Eowyn behind. Eowyn is dead.