Part 77 of the Elfwine Chronicles. The Elfwine Chronicles are a series of one-shots built around the family group of Eomer, Lothiriel and Elfwine. The total number will depend on how many ideas I get for new vignettes.

A/N: Tracey passed along some "guy stuff" ideas and this is based on one of them, tweaked for Middle-earth.

Was gonna wait until tomorrow to post this, but why? It's already tomorrow in some parts of the world - even on the east coast of the U.S., right?

Off Course

(3 IV)

"Captain Eothain!" Both gate guards snapped to attention as the big captain of the King's Guard moved past them, barely giving them a glance. He mumbled something that neither quite caught.

As he continued on up the hill, one man asked the other, "Why is he on foot? Where is his horse?"

"How would I know!"

"Should we…ask him, do you think?"

"Of course not! It is his own business. He would tell us if he wanted us to know."

Still perplexed, they watched the captain disappear into the darkness, then turned back to their duties when he was lost from sight.


The next morning, Eomer was surprised at breakfast when Frealaf put in appearance. Bowing politely, he apologetically said, "My lord, I am sorry to intrude on your meal, but something…unusual…has happened and I thought I should bring it to your attention."

Eomer eyed him questioningly, then encouraged, "Yes?"

"Captain Eothain…is missing. His horse is not in the stables and no one recalls seeing him since he left yesterday for Aldburg."

"Search the city, and inquire at the gates whether any news was received of him. Let me know at once what you learn." Eomer's brows furrowed with concern; he hoped his friend was not in difficulty.

An hour later, Frealaf returned, looking perplexed and uncertain, saying, "The guards from last night inform me that Eothain returned late – on foot. No one has seen him since he entered the gates."

Eomer rose from behind his desk and strode toward the door, asking as he moved, "Has anyone tried the obvious – his bed?"

Eothain should have been on duty, and was never known to be tardy or absent, so it had not occurred to anyone to consider that possibility. Flushing with embarrassment, Frealaf admitted they had not and he followed his king down the hill toward Eothain's cottage. Dispensing with the nicety of knocking, Eomer lifted the latch on the unlocked door and entered Eothain's home, making directly for the bedroom. They heard him before they saw him – the captain sleeping soundly and snoring loudly.

Shaking the man vigorously until he began to stir, Eomer was relieved when at last Eothain peeked open his eyes, muttering, "This had better be important!"

Grinning, Eomer retorted, "An audience with your king is always important, Captain!"

With a groan, Eothain rolled on his back rubbing at his head, grumbling, "Could my king perhaps speak more quietly? I have a fearful headache!"

"Speak softly?" Eomer asked in amusement. "You return from Aldburg on foot and disappear, necessitating a search of the city this morning by your alarmed second, and you wish me to speak softly? Where the devil is your horse, man?"

Eothain seemed to give the matter considerable thought, then admitted, "I cannot rightly say, my liege. I do recall riding him when I left Aldburg. Beyond that, the evening is a blur. I think I may have had too much to drink."

"Aye, a bit!" Eomer rejoined. Turning to Frealaf, who was standing nearby and trying very hard not to laugh at the situation, he instructed, "Send out riders to look for his horse, and have the healer send over some of his concoction for a hangover. Oh, and stand down the alert – Captain Eothain has been found."

Chuckling softly, Frealaf nodded and hastily left the room before his laughter became full blown.

It took another half hour for the riders to return with Eothain's horse, whom they had found grazing on the barrowfields outside the gates.

Once Eothain had sobered somewhat and his hangover eased, his king requested that in the future he show greater temperance in his visits to Aldburg, and specifically recommended that he not lose his horse again.

Ever after, Eothain sheepishly kept that counsel, reluctant to again endure the ribbing he had received on the matter.



End note: It is not essential that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written, but there is an advantage to doing so. The more of them that I wrote, the more likely I was to make reference to one of the previous ones and something that happened there. If you want to read them in order, go to the top of this page and click on my name (Deandra). That will take you to my profile page. Scroll down and you will find all the stories I have written. The Elfwine Chronicles are in order from bottom to top since ffn shows them in the order they were posted. A few were posted out of number order (#15 came after #17, I think), but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.