Author's Note: OK. New fanfic here so a new disclaimer. I don't own any of these characters, places, names, etc. and I'm not making any money off of them. Everything belongs to the genius Tolkien, I'm just corrupting his vision for my own pleasure.
If anyone reading this has read Lady Lessons, be warned that this story takes place using a different timeline. It also deviates from the canon times and places found in the ROTK appendices. I think Eomer and Lothiriel are two of the best characters to write fiction about, Lothiriel especially, because their personalities are not too clearly defined in LOTR and can be tweaked to some extent. There's also not enough fan fiction about their romance. So go write one! But review this first. Thanks :)
It was hot inside the wagon. If Lothiriel had been allowed a say in the traveling accommodations, she would have opted to ride her horse, but as usual she hadn't been consulted. Fanning herself desperately, she stared wistfully out the windows, but she could no longer see the sea. In fact, they hadn't been able to for some time. All Lothiriel saw was mile upon mile of tall grass and light brush.
Rohan wasn't a bad sort of country, she mused, if one liked wide open space and hot sun. She knew the Rohirrim were famed for their horses, and she was looking forward to examining the magnificent steeds that were sure to be found in the King's stables at Edoras. But for now she was stuck under the suffocating canvas with nothing to do but wish she were outside enjoying the breeze.
From her vantage point by the window, Lothiriel was the first to see riders approaching. Some 15 horsemen were approaching the train and would soon overtake it. She squinted at the party. Though they were clad in the customary peasant garb of Rohan, their armor was of shoddily made wood and leather, and they wore masks across their faces. Lothiriel sat up straighter and leaned outside for a better look. No, they definitely weren't soldiers; who then were they? Bandits?
Her suspicions were confirmed when she heard someone give the command to halt horses and make ready for battle. Lothiriel eagerly watched the proceedings through the gap in the canvas until the train's leader came by and pulled it shut.
"Stay quiet, my Lady. You don't want them knowing you're in here. Everything will probably be fine, but if they overpower us..."
"I'm not helpless, Captain..." she was speaking to no one. He had raced off to join the soldiers she assumed were preparing to defend the train. Lothiriel glowered in the stifling semi-darkness of the wagon. Once again, she was to be shut off from all the excitement.
She stewed for a few moments, but was jolted out of her reflections by the cries and metal clashings of battle—the skirmish must have started. Goodness! She thought. It's right outside the wagon! Perhaps I could just open the window a tiny bit to see... Lothiriel heard a grunt and a wet thud. Then another, and another. Though she'd led a sheltered life, she knew the sound of a sword slicing through flesh when she heard it. Oh, why did father have to go on ahead? And why on earth did he leave such a small retinue with me? The poor soldiers—no one was expecting this! What will I tell their families?
In a matter of minutes, it was all over. Lothiriel could hear the triumphant jeering of the outlaw Rohirrim. A man with a low, raspy voice gave orders to tie up the prisoners and begin searching for valuables. Lothiriel frantically dug through the baskets surrounding her...where had she left it...aha! She slipped a long, thin dagger into her sleeve.
She did not have to wait long to be discovered.
The canvas was ripped apart. A harsh, leering face with a large nose peered into the wagon.
"Oh, ho, boys. Lookee what we've got here!" Lothiriel was dragged outside by a pair of rough hands. Blinking in the suddenly bright light, she observed the situation as the bandits gathered around her. There were 13 of them, in various disreputable-looking costumes that made their profession obvious. Most were holding bloody swords or spears. She grimaced at the sight of her own soldiers of Dol Amroth lying dead or wounded on the ground. Seven men in the blue and silver tunics of her city were sporting bound hands and feet, but she counted at least two dead outlaws. Good! she thought icily. At least they didn't go out without a fight. And I won't either Suddenly determined, she raised her chin and glared defiantly at the man who had pulled her outside, judging him to be the leader.
"Who are you, missy? And what's a pretty thing like you doing riding out in the middle of nowhere like this without ..." the man laughed "decent protection? Your soldiers have failed you, so it looks as though you're stuck with us. But don't worry, the boys and I will make you most welcome." He looked her up and down evilly. Lothiriel's anger boiled up and she snapped words before she could stop herself.
"The only place you'll make me welcome is at your execution."
The men laughed uproariously at her fury. "And how will you be managing that, wench?" The leader spread his arms and looked from side to side with a leering grin. "There's a dozen of us, and only your lonesome self against us."
"But I can count. Might I know your name? I'll be only too happy to report it in the Afterlife, then maybe you'll be struck by lightning." She was unable to contain her sarcasm.
"Oh, we won't kill you yet, missy." The man winked at his companions. "Will we, boys?" He lowered his voice and spoke disgustingly close to her ear. "I'll keep you all to myself if you promise to behave."
Lothiriel jerked her head away from the man and spat in his face. With speed and strength born of rage and long practice (though her father didn't know about it), she slipped the knife from her sleeve and slashed the outlaw leader roughly across the face. He fell back with a cry of surprise and pain.
There was a brief moment of confusion as he was helped up by those of his followers not trying to subdue the struggling Lothiriel. She fought with all she had, but she was no match for the bandits. Soon she found herself bent over slightly, facing the bleeding, enraged leader with her arms pinioned behind her back by one of the outlaws. Another yanked her head back by the hair so she was staring fully, helplessly into the leader's face.
"Now you'll face the wrath of Gailith, brat." The man raised his fist to cuff her across the face, but just before he touched her he was thrown to the ground with a spear through his belly. Lothiriel gaped.
The second battle was over as quickly as the first. The outlaws were slaughtered mercilessly and the soldiers of Dol Amroth were released and their wounded tended to. It wasn't long before Lothiriel found herself face to face with their rescuers' leader.
He was a good deal more appealing to look at than Gailith had been. Green-grey eyes were set into a pleasing, very masculine face. The soldier removed his helmet, revealing shoulder-length golden-yellow hair and a stern expression. He was several inches taller than Lothiriel, she judged him at slightly over six feet, all clad in shining armor. He bowed to her.
"I am Eomer of Rohan, Lady. I apologize for your troubles traversing this land. I thank you, however, for giving us the opportunity to end the thieving days of Gailith the Bandit, who has been running amok in this area for too long." Goodness, the man even had a pleasing voice. Lothiriel curtsied.
"And I thank you, Eomer of Rohan for your timely rescue. You shall henceforth have my gratitude and that of my men."
"Might I have your name, as well, Lady?" Lothiriel was slightly flustered. Her name! How could she forget her own name?
"L- Lothiriel, princess of Dol Amroth. My father is a guest at Edoras, I go to join him." The man smiled. Lothiriel was momentarily distracted by the flash of white teeth. Then she realized how simple she must sound. Eomer of Rohan! KING Eomer of Rohan! Oh, good grief! How on earth could I have forgotten Eomer is the name of the king?
Well, so much for first impressions.