A/N: Theodred has always intrigued me, mostly because he is one of the characters in the books that Tolkien spent the least amount of time on. I have long wanted to expose his thoughts and feelings, but lacked the inspiration until now. You may find it too dark, if you are of a lighter heart, but I believe Theodredis one of Tolkien's darkest characters. He was a prince of Rohan, a country that was going socially and economically down the tubes. War was upon him, and he didn't have the resources to stop it, and Gondor would send no aid to them. His father, the man he most looked up to, had fallen under a spell which left him a doddering old man who did not know him. All these things would have broken the proud, probably learnedspiritofTheodred, and left him with these thoughts.
Alone in the Night
It has been so long since I knew fresh air. Every day my breath grows more stifled—the air around me becomes filled with greater fumes and sucks the pleasure out of breathing. It sticks in my throat; and sometimes I feel as if I am suffocating.
It was not always like this, but times have grown so troubled, and evil lurks in every corner of our kingdom. More and more I find a feeling of helplessness accompanying the stale air. It shouldn't be like this, for I am a prince of Rohan, and I should be strong. But I am not. Since I was a lad I have heard the tales of great kings and warriors—men who saw wrong and mended it, or died in glory trying. Those days are past, or maybe it is simply I who can do nothing.
This suffocation began when I was young. My mother died before I can remember, and the pillaging started when I was very small. Parties of orcs here and there would steal, burn, or kill. My father dealt with them swiftly, and for a short time there was security. But as I grew older, my father began to fall under an evil spell, and I lost him. I should have been able to save him, but now he is beyond my grasp, and the veil that has fallen between us is not penetrable.
Once my father was a good, just man, and his rule over this kingdom promised to be a great one. I used to sit with my father, listening as he recounted the battles he had fought in, and the deeds of old. I thought in those days that there was no man alive as great as my father. Perhaps back then there was not, but those days are over and gone. My greatest wish was once to reflect my father in everything I did. Now my greatest fear is following in his footsteps and becoming the tool of the enemy.
My people are a proud nation, but the time for glory is over. Honor has been lost within the desire to survive, and now the people strive only to keep their families safe from the marauding parties of orcs roaming through our lands. My men can do little, for every day the number of pillagers grows and strengthens. They do not all come from Mordor, and I fear there is another evil lurking nearby—waiting to prey on Rohan. One close to home, and one, perhaps, that is using men in my father's court to change the will of the king to folly. How my heart hammers in my breast when I am with my father, and how my spirit is torn asunder as I watch the evil lies falling into his ear and his mind! They have not yet penetrated his heart, and I must keep hope that he can be saved, but not by me, and not by my people. The only hope I have is in a miracle from the world outside of our borders, and that hope is almost gone.
My role has been reduced to a mere captain, leading his men to hunt down these orcs and slay them in the futile hope that it will do some good in stopping these creatures of darkness. Every time my blade runs through the body of an enemy, my heart laughs within me in black despair. The pleasure of killing the orc is almost a poison to me, for I know in the end, I am doing no great thing. More and more, I feel the lust for blood creeping over my mind, and I recoil in horror. I once served a great king and father, and the desire to kill I had then was for the purpose of our land and our people. Now I fight a losing battle, and the desire for blood stems only from the bitterness of revenge eating away at my soul.
I watch my younger cousin Éomer often, and I see that the cancer in my soul has not touched him yet. Perhaps it is his youth that leads him to strive after glory and honor, or perhaps it is that he does not fully understand the rottenness of Rohan. I would not have it any other way, for as long as he can maintain his honor, the better. My own honor has been trampled underfoot by the soiled feet of evil. I can hardly lift my head anymore and acknowledge my name—Prince Theodred, son of Theoden King. My men know nothing of my shame, for it does not befit a leader to show weakness to his men. But in my heart I grow bitterer, and my mouth grows more silent.
My sweet cousin Éowyn, the white lady of Rohan, looks at me with sorrow in her eyes. She is more discerning than her brother, and I know she senses the disgrace filling my heart. She once laughed at my jokes, for when her mother and father died, I took it on myself to lead her to happier days. Now she smiles at me, wishing to lend brightness to my heart, but I see the hidden pain in her soul too. Her brother doesn't know of the struggle she endures day after day, wishing for freedom from her gilded cage. I know the worm of a man who preys upon my father has looked at her in lust, and I cannot allow myself to be in the same room as he, else I should forget myself and slay him. I would doubtless be executed, for he has his minions lurking in all corners. But this is yet another way that my honor has been tainted, and I am unable to look my cousin in the eyes anymore. I have failed her too.
The days grow blacker yet, and I am unable to recall the tales of light and laughter. Was there once a land where evil did not lurk in wait to fall on unsuspecting men? I hear stories of the legendary cities of elves, where they say peace and goodness still resides, but I cannot believe that anymore. Once I longed to visit all the lands Middle Earth had to behold, but now I cannot see beyond the confines of this land—beyond the range of daily sight. My eyes are ever fixed on the destruction around me, and my mind ever dwells on the shadow and fear growing in the hearts of my people. They are my people now, for the plague that has overtaken my father has left him incompetent. But of what better use am I? As a king, I have failed, as in all else.
Yet somehow, within me, a light seems to shine in the blackness, and I wonder if it is simply the folly of a man going mad. I dream often of my cousins, happy and whole, and I have even dreamt of a dark-haired man standing with Éowyn, holding her tightly. I dream of a prosperous Rohan, with her people content one more. I dream of men able to travel with no fear of being slaughtered; I dream of children sleeping without fear of being attacked in their beds. But my dreams are only a cruel mockery to me of things that cannot, and will never be. When I wake, the darkness presses down upon me once more, and the evil seems even more present and strong.
I know my end is coming soon, and I welcome it with joy. I have failed, and there is no way to regain my honor. Not even by a death in battle will I win back what was lost long years ago. I pray only that my people know safety once more, if only for a short time, and that they might keep some foolish hope alive of a better world.
Where honor is gone, love cannot survive; where love cannot survive, I will not live.
Onen i-estel waith, ú-chebin estel anim.
Translation: I gave hope to the people, I have kept no hope for myself.
It is very debatable whether Theodred would have known enough elvish to use this phrase. By most accounts he was a somewhat scholarly man, who would probably have had at least a smattering of elvish. It would have been more realistic, perhaps, to have the last line in Rohhiric, but then again, the entire manuscript would have been written in Rohhiric, as it was their dialect. Therefore, if he wanted to add stress on the last line, the logical choice would be elvish, as it was the most beautiful and dignified language of the world. If you disagree, leave me a review.