Summary: She was born in the body of a maid, with the spirit and courage to match the heroes of old. She longed for great deeds, but there was always some excuse for the White Lady of Rohan to stay behind.

Rating: K

Disclaimer: Tolkien invented this world, not me. Tolkien wrote the paragraphs in Italic, I just quoted them. And many, if not all of the thoughts are paraphrased from his work, too. I just rhymed them…

Beta: Windsurfbabe and openmeadow =)

Illustration: http:// mirachravaia. deviantart. com/ art/ The-Inner-Struggle-118748424 (remove the spaces)


When I first looked on her and perceived her unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily, and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel. Or was it, maybe, a frost that had turned its sap to ice, and so it stood, bitter-sweet, still fair to see, but stricken, soon to fall and die?1

"My Lord!" She was like a ray of sun in the dim morning, shining from a place of shadows and whispers, her golden hair streaming after her as she rushed outside, where the riders mounted their steeds with grim expressions.

"My Lord, allow me to ride with you!" Her eyes pleaded, begged for release like those of a wild animal locked in a cage.

A tall rider turned to her. His cloak was green like the free plains of Rohan, like the freedom she longed for, but his eyes were troubled and weary. "Nay, my Lady. I cannot. Dark clouds are gathering above our land and my heart tells me that there will be no great deeds and glory in this battle. I cannot take the fairest thing that remains in the halls of my father away, when all the land needs her light in the dark times. You are brave and strong, my Lady, but your place is not in the field of battle. We ride to shadows and no song will be sung about our ride."

With that, he turned from her and mounted his horse, and led his riders out of Edoras, to the wide plains where they would meet their fate, be it good or bad. They would meet it with their heads lifted proudly, their eyes unwavering. They would meet it eye to eye with the sword in hand.

And, looking after them, stood a woman clad in white, condemned to watch and wait, while the fate crept up on her with the whispers of Wormtongue in the shadows in the sleepless hours before dawn.

It was the last time that Éowyn daughter of Éomund saw Théodred, the only heir of the kingdom of Rohan ride to battle beneath the gray clouds of morning sky. She longed to ride with him and feel the strong horse under her and the steel of her sword in her firm grasp. She longed to face the fate, not wait for it to come like a thief. She did not fear death…

-o-

To feel the wind

Upon my skin

In the green sea of grass

On a strong steed

With nimble feet

The echoes of hoof-beats

-o-

My sword is sharp

The dancing spark

Upon glistening blade

My hand is steady

My spear is ready

But you have told me: "Stay"


"Brother!" she cried out, and her voice trembled slightly. Éomer's éored was assembled, waiting for its leader who stood at the door of the Golden Hall, facing his sister.

"Take me with you, I beg you! Take me with you, for I cannot stay idle in these halls any longer!"

"Éowyn, sister!" He took her hands into his. "I know that you can wield the sword as well as any of my men and that your arrows never miss their mark. But it is not your place. I ride for it is my duty to my King, and to the land of Rohan and my place is on the horseback, with my men. You have another duty, and the King needs you. He grows old and, as his niece, your place is at his side. Do you not love him?"

She averted her eyes. "I do."

Éomer smiled at her, and squeezed her hands reassuringly. "Good. We will ride together, sister. When the war ends and brighter times come…" He did not believe his words and she knew it, but she gave him a slight smile. Smile was on her face, but her heart wept with bitter tears as she watched him to mount his horse and ride with the rising sun reflecting in his helm. Then she returned to the dim hall where the King sat on his throne like a shadow of the former glory, an old man on faltering feet bent under the burden of years.

-o-

My sword is sharp

The dancing spark

Upon glistening blade

My hand is steady

My spear is ready

But you have told me: "Stay"

-o-

Oh, brother mine

Like bitter wine

Is waiting in these halls

You have the sword

You can ride forth

I have the shrinking walls

-o-

Like rose of steel

Do you not feel

The ice upon my heart?

In shrinking cage

Until the age

Will make the cage my part


"Westu Théoden hál!" Behold the king of Rohan in his glory! He walked in the shadow of poisonous lies, an old man tired of life. Now, he walks in the light again and his fingers are strong on the hilt of his sword. The silver of his beard speaks not of weakness, but of wisdom as he stands, straight and proud, before the carved door of the Golden Hall, looking at his riders.

The golden-haired woman beheld him and a new spark was in her eyes. She felt the sword he held like a surge of power in her own fingers. She faced a new day. A storm was gathering above the plains of Rohan, but there was hope in her eyes and in her ears the clang of swords on shields sounded like music. No longer was she bound to the dim halls. No longer was she bound to support an old man in his weakness. She looked at the assembled host and to the wide plains and her heart flew far at the sight.

No longer could she wait. She knelt before the king. "My place is at your side, my Lord. Where you go, I will follow. Please, allow me to ride with you!"

The King looked at her with kindness in his eyes. "Nay, Éowyn sister-daughter. Your place is here, with our folk. The people trust in the House of Eorl, and you are the daughter of kings. You are fearless and high-hearted and they love you. You will be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone."

She bowed her head and said nothing, but the light in her eyes seemed to diminish as if a cloud had veiled the sun.

Then the king sat upon a seat before his doors, and Éowyn knelt before him and received from him a sword and a fair corslet. "Farewell sister-daughter!" he said. "Dark is the hour, yet maybe we shall return to the Golden Hall. But in Dunharrow the people may long defend themselves, and if the battle go ill, thither will come all who escape."

"Speak not so!" she answered. "A year shall I endure for every day that passes until your return."

The king now went down the stair with Gandalf beside him. The others followed. Aragorn looked back as they passed towards the gate. Alone Éowyn stood before the doors of the house at the stair's head; the sword was set upright before her, and her hands were laid upon the hilt. She was clad now in mail and shone like silver in the sun.

The trumpets sounded. The horses reared and neighed. Spear clashed on shield. Then the king raised his hand, and with a rush like the sudden onset of a great wind the last host of Rohan rode thundering into the West. Far over the plain Éowyn saw the glitter of their spears, as she stood still, alone before the doors of the silent house.2

-o-

My sword is sharp

The dancing spark

Upon glistening blade

My hand is steady

My spear is ready

But you have told me: "Stay"

-o-

Shieldmaiden proud

You called me loud

And then bound me to lead

Shield, was your word

But I'm the sword

Laying idle in sheath

-o-

Daughter of kings…

Why my heart sinks?

My duty I'll fulfill

I watch you ride

I do not cry

For I am ice and steel


When the light of day was come into the sky but the sun was not yet risen above the high ridges in the East, Aragorn made ready to depart. His company was all mounted, and he was about to leap into the saddle, when the Lady Éowyn came to bid them farewell. She was clad as a Rider and girt with a sword. In her hand she bore a cup, and she set it to her lips and drank a little, wishing them good speed; and then she gave the cup to Aragorn, and he drank, and he said: 'Farewell, Lady of Rohan! I drink to the fortunes of your House, and of you, and of all your people. Say to your brother: beyond the shadows we may meet again!'

Then it seemed to Gimli and Legolas who were nearby that she wept, and in one so stern and proud that seemed the more grievous. But she said: 'Aragorn, wilt thou go?'

'I will,' he said.

'Then wilt thou not let me ride with this company, as I have asked?'

'I will not, lady,' he said. 'For that I could not grant without leave of the king and of your brother; and they will not return until tomorrow. But I count now every hour, indeed every minute. Farewell!'

Then she fell on her knees, saying: 'I beg thee!'

'Nay, lady,' he said, and taking her by the hand he raised her. Then he kissed her hand, and sprang into the saddle, and rode away, and did not look back; and only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore.

But Éowyn stood still as a figure carven in stone, her hands clenched at her sides, and she watched them until they passed into the shadows under the black Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain, in which was the Gate of the Dead. When they were lost to view, she turned, stumbling as one that is blind, and went back to herlodging.3

-o-

My sword is sharp

The dancing spark

Upon glistening blade

My hand is steady

My spear is ready

But you have told me: "Stay"

-o-

You take the path

Without the light

That none has returned from

And on the east

Like crushing fist

Gathers an evil storm

-o-

On paths of dread

You lead to death

The men that follow you

Oh, take me too!

To ride with you

For, like they, I love you

No longer could she stay behind. No duty could hold her back. The one that rode to the Paths of Dead took her heart with him into the shadows. Dark was the bleak Dwimorberg, and even darker were the paths beneath it. There, her heart choked in the darkness, and all the hope was extinguished. She felt the emptiness of her life like a horse that has lost its master in fight and now runs on the battle-field, forgotten.

She drew her sword and raised it, looking at the blade as it glistened in the light of the fires. It was sharp and strong and without adornments, fair in its deadly simplicity. It became a part of her as she clenched her fingers around the hilt and felt the strength surge in her arms. It called for great deeds and glory. But her heart called for death.

She breathed in deeply. Suddenly she was free of the cage. Her fate was not here, in the shadow of Dunharrow. It was there, in the wide fields, in the far land of the Sea Kings. She was free for she had nothing left to lose. There was to be no more waiting or staying behind. She would not wait for the cage to become a habit. She would not watch the walls of her bower closing in around her like a hutch to trammel some wild thing in. She would not wait for the men to return from war to find warm food and beds. And if they did not, if they died in battle and honor, she would not wait to be burned in the house that they needed no more. As daughter of kings, she would ride. She would ride and the clash of steel would be a dirge for her lost heart. She would ride… For death and glory!

But when they had come almost to the end of the line one looked up glancing keenly at the hobbit. A young man, Merry thought as he returned the glance, less in height and girth than most. He caught the glint of clear grey eyes; and then he shivered, for it came suddenly to him that it was the face of one without hope who goes in search of death.4

-o-

My sword is sharp

The dancing spark

Upon glistening blade

My hand is steady

My spear is ready

And today, I won't stay

-o-

The sea of spears

The sun sheds tears

Eorlingas ride to war

To the red day

To glory, fame

In the ancestors' hall

-o-

To end of hope

I will ride forth

To the dark, sunless day

Where my King goes

There I follow

No excuse makes me stay


1 J. R. R. Tolkien: The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 8: The Houses of Healing

2 J. R. R. Tolkien: The Two Towers, Book III, Chapter 6: The King of the Golden Hall

3 J. R. R. Tolkien: The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 2: The Passing of the Grey Company

4 J. R. R. Tolkien: The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter 3: The Muster of Roha