Part 128 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: This story is an adjunct to the Chronicle entitled "Death".

Desolate

(1 IV)

My father died when I was just eleven years of age, killed by orcs. I swore then to rid our land of those foul creatures. When my mother succumbed to her grief less than a year later, my resolve in the matter was fixed. As soon as I was old enough to join an eored, war became my occupation. I put in long hours practicing my riding, and developing my skill with sword and spear. I was blessed with great natural ability, and I was soon a formidable foe.

Then our land was darkened even more, and the Wormtongue wove his spell over the king. Despite the best efforts of my cousin, Theodred, and I, as well as many other good men, more and more our land was being ravaged, along with our people. It frustrated me greatly to see such a tide that I was unable to turn. Theodred recognized my prowess in battle, and that my focus and determination were steady. Once I had proven myself sufficiently, he saw fit to pressure his father into naming me Third Marshal of the Riddermark, and I rode proudly, protecting our people.

But, at length, the Worm gained control. First he arranged for Theodred's murder, and then he convinced the king that I was a traitor, and had me imprisoned. I thought, then, that Rohan must surely fall and all come to darkness.

By some miracle, three strangers I had earlier trusted came to our aid, freeing Theoden of Saruman's hold and ridding us of Grima. The most fearsome battles of my life followed; indeed, we fought for the very existence of Men. Perhaps I had only half believed that the two hobbits, reportedly on a quest into Mordor, could ever save us. I was truly stunned when the great black tower fell, and the eye of Sauron was at last vanquished.

After that, Gondor saw her first king in many long generations, and I found myself on the throne of Rohan. I had never sought nor desired to rule, but I had served the Riddermark most all of my life, and I could not contemplate failing to continue. But I had never trained for this; I had no particular innate abilities as I did in fighting. Oh, I had been schooled in manners and protocol, courtly behavior and the like, but only as a royal relation never expected to rule. That was Theodred's fixed destiny, not mine. The responsibility weighed heavily upon my shoulders…and the Mark was so very devastated.

And, then, I met her. Lothiriel of Dol Amroth was like no other woman I had ever known, and in my feelings for her I finally understood the passion my parents had shared. I had never had much time to give thought to the pursuit of women before, and I felt I had little to recommend myself other than my royal title. Just my luck that Lothiriel was not impressed by such things, so my status held little attraction for her.

Fortunately, despite that, and the matchmaking attempts of our kin, we became friends. Neither of us was what we expected to find in one of noble birth, which suited us just fine. We both found the posturing of puffed up nobles to be excessively tedious, and in that we found mutual ground. In the course of the month it took to return Theoden to Edoras and bury him with his kin, I fell hopelessly in love with this remarkable woman. She was irreverent and determined, strong and beautiful. Whenever we were together, the burdens of my kingly office seemed far lighter, and my soul as a man was lightened. She made me laugh, and I had despaired of ever doing that again. Life began to have possibilities once more, but I could not even contemplate having a future that did not include her. For a time, I did not think I would ever win her heart, but eventually my feelings were shared and we were wed.

It took time for me to adjust to this new life of hope and renewal. The Riddermark slowly began to recover, both her land and resources as well as her people. Couples wed and bore children, foals were born, houses rebuilt and crops resown. My household was part of that regrowth as I stood with a wife and queen at my side, and we were blessed with a son.

In the midst of such joy, it was difficult to comprehend that evil was still abroad in Middle-earth. Though Sauron had been destroyed, not all of his minions were gone. Bands of orcs still roamed in our lands, though their numbers were greatly diminished. Leaderless, they attacked whenever they thought they could safely acquire food, or when their desperation became too great for caution. Too often our Riders still had to go forth to meet this challenge.

After one such patrol that I led to defend the Eastfold, I found myself troubled by the battle. I was tired of fighting. I wanted peace in our lands. I wanted my people to be free of fear; I wanted my wife and son not to have to worry about my safety. I wanted it…to end. I had been fighting most of my life, and now I very much wished to be able to lay down my sword. Yet, it seemed, I was still a warrior, and perhaps I would always deal in death, to the end of my days. I did not welcome that thought.

I had chosen my wife well, though I could hardly have known just how well at the time. When I returned from that patrol, despairing and lost, she was there. Words soothed, and warm arms held me as I wept. Her wise counsel eased my mind, and she got me bathed and into bed so I could physically rejuvenate. After that, I never again despaired so. I realized that complete peace might be a long time coming, but so long as I could see progress, then all was not lost. I could hope for a prosperous tomorrow, and work to bring it to pass.

THE END

2/18/07

FYI: Eärendur - Tenth King of Arnor. Earendur was born in 640. He was the son of Elendur. Earendur had a son named Amlaith and at least two younger sons. When Earendur died in 861, his sons divided Arnor into three Kingdoms - Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. Amlaith became the first King of Arthedain, and two other sons ruled Cardolan and Rhudaur. Earendur was therefore the last King to rule the entire North-kingdom until Aragorn, King Elessar. (source: The Thain's Book online)

End note: It is best that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written. 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, but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.