Chapter 2: Greater Men

Time again seemed to pass unheralded. I knew there were many things swirling in my mind that I should be using my excess of time to go over, but they were things I feared dwelling on. Things I feared couldn’t be changed no matter how many times I turned them over in my head.

Was there truly such a thing as fate? And if so, was it truly my fate that I had to go back to my own world?

It wasn’t fair; none of it was fair.

I glanced down at the spider web of scars crisscrossing the exposed flesh of my hand. And they weren’t near the worst.

No, I know better than most that people rarely get what’s right or fair, but dammit, haven’t I given enough? Haven’t I bled enough? When is it my turn to get what I want? What I need.

No, life isn’t fair. True enough. But to hell with fate, I don’t give a damn about what gods, Valar, or anyone or anything else says has to be. I’ll write my own fate.

But that niggling fear remained. Could anyone really write their own fate?

“Where are we, Gandalf?” Pippin asked, his fearful voice still shaking off the remnants of his slumber.

The wizard answered almost absently as he allowed Shadowfax to slow to a walk, also allowing my own mount to draw abreast of him. “In the realm of Gondor, the land of Anórien is still passing by.”

Pippin was gazing around at our surroundings when he suddenly gasped and pointed high into the mountains. “What is that?” he cried. “Look! Fire, red fire! Are there dragons in this land? Look, there is another!”

Gandalf drew in a sharp breath, leaning over the neck of his stead and urging him onward even as his words carried back to me. “On, Shadowfax! We must hasten. Time is short. See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame on Eilenach; and there go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and Halifirien on the borders of Rohan.”

As soon as Gandalf had begun urging Shadowfax on, I had leaned over Lightfoot and done likewise, surprised by how revived he seemed by even so short a reprieve. Rohan would soon be amassing her army for war in her neighbor’s land. But I knew most of my friends would soon be headed on another path to Gondor.

Gandalf spoke as we rode about the history of the beacons to call for aid from neighboring lands, but I listened little, trying to concentrate on keeping myself awake and aware of our surroundings.

After a day spent sleeping restlessly on the hard earth, and then some hours passed again tiredly in the saddle, my mind caught the tenor of human thoughts getting nearer. Soon the thoughts swelled and I realized we were approaching a great mass of humans. Looking around I noticed Shadowfax’s ears and head held aloft at attention as he seemed to notice something as well, though our surroundings were so greatly shrouded by the mist.

“We’re approaching Minas Tirith,” I told Gandalf, guessing from the sheer volume of human thoughts, many seeming harried and fearful.

Gandalf once again motioned for a halt, and I waited beside him as he stared at me, his eyes seeming to search for an answer.

“Pull your hood up,” he finally directed. “The fog is thick, but we will soon be approaching the walls at the edges of the Fields of Pelennor.”

He seemed to stiffen and brace himself for my ire at his words, but I shrugged and slowly pulled my hood forward. I did however look at Gandalf curiously, wondering at his directive. His thoughts had always been utterly silent to me. For which I found merciful. I couldn’t imagine what would be in the thoughts of a wizard.

Finally, as I followed his orders, he relaxed and answered my inquisitive look. “I know not how the men of Gondor shall react to the sight of a woman so girded for battle. But I doubt very much it shall be favorably. Elves and dwarves are not as man, and even among the Rohirrim, they at least are not unfamiliar with the sight of a woman wielding a blade. I fear you shall meet much more resistance among the Gondorians who tightly cosset their wives and daughters. A woman outfitted for war shall likely be quite abhorrent to their sensibilities. Gondorians are more rigid in their views of the roles of men and women.”

I pulled the hood lower, hoping I would indeed pass as a lean or slight built man. I certainly had none of the bulk of a Rohirric man, but perhaps Gondorian men were leaner.

And shorter.

“It’s no problem,” I told Gandalf. “My country considered our women to be very liberated, but I’ve served in countries far more backwards than I understand Gondor to be. As you said, their merely rigid in their views. I can handle that. Even as liberated as my country was, our military did its best to ensure that the uniforms for women were designed to as best as possible disguise a woman’s figure so she looked as much like a man as possible.” And working as a scout in Middle Eastern countries meant I’d also dressed purposefully in men’s clothing a number of times to blend in, although, the niqabs worn to cover a woman’s face in Muslim countries could be quite useful too, as I well knew.

We continued forward at a walk, the sounds of men talking and the busy fervor of construction noise growing as we went. Soon, the breeze picked up a bit, blowing some of the mist clear and revealing the wall Gandalf had spoken of. We rode forward to several men who had the air of being in charge, but I kept as quiet and still as Pippin was, still asleep atop of Shadowfax, as Gandalf spoke to the men. I instead carefully looked out from under my hood at the array of men busily working on repairing the wall.

It was strange to again be surrounded but so many pressing thoughts in a language I spoke. I still had no understanding myself for how I came to understand Westron as I did, for I had thought it was supposed to have very clearly been a different language from English. But I’d decided many months ago not to question how it was possible any more so than how my bloodline lent me the understanding of my father’s language, Silva.

For so many months, I had been surrounded by those who thought in the languages of elves, dwarves, and even the hobbits apparently had their own language. In Rohan, the human thoughts and emotions had been as pressing as human thoughts had been all my life, but I hadn’t understood any Rohirric to know their words. Here, it was achingly familiar. Thoughts and emotions blasting in my mind as men hurried about, thoughts lingering passingly on their wives and families as they went about their assignments.

Yet, they had such an air of haste about them. Worry that the wall would not be able to adequately withstand the battle these men knew without doubt was coming. I admired their determination to sweat each moment until the battle was nigh, trying to finish their task, but I also wondered to myself just how much of their work was soon to be undone by the onslaught Mordor’s forces would soon unleash.

“Yea truly, we know you, Mithrandir,” one of the men said to Gandalf, bringing my attention away from the men busily working at the wall. “And you know the pass-words of the Seven Gates and are free to go forward. But we do not know your companions. What is this one? A dwarf out of the mountains in the North? And what of your lean, silent companion? We wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless the be mighty men of arm in whose faith and help we can trust.”

I hastily threw a barrier up in my mind to shut the distracting thoughts out, and listened intently to Gandalf’s reply.

“I will vouch for them before the seat of Denethor,” Gandalf answered with a sweeping gesture to encompass both Pippin and me. “And as for valor, that cannot be computed by stature nor speech. They have passed through more battles and perils than you have, Ingold, though you be twice the height and twice as verbose; and they come now from the storming of Isengard and the battle at Helm’s Deep, of which we bear tidings, and great weariness is on this one in particular, or I would wake him. His name is Peregrin, a very valiant man, and my other companion is called Lane, a traveler from the North.”

“Man?” Ingold replied with dubious glance at Pippin, and then turned to study me.

Thankfully, Pippin chose that moment to awake and loudly proclaim offense at Gandalf’s words.

“Man!” he groused, “Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a man, save perhaps now and again by necessity. Do not let Gandalf deceive you!”

Ingold seemed unsure whether to be impressed by Pippin’s bold outburst or to find humor in it. “Many a doer of great deeds might say no more,” he finally responded, his attention blessedly diverted from me. “But what is a hobbit?”

“A Halfling,” Gandalf added. “Nay, not the one that was spoken of. Not he, yet one of his kindred.”

“Yes, and one who journeyed with him,” Pippin tacked on. “And Boromir of your City was with us, and he saved me in the snows of the North, and at the last he was slain standing by Lane’s side, defending me from many foes.”

“Peace!” Gandalf shushed. “The news of that grief should have been told first to the father.”

Ingold looked back at me with interest again at Pippin’s inclusion of me in the tale, and I wish I had been close enough to discreetly chuck the young hobbit in the back of the head for speaking.

“It has been guessed already,” Ingold answered, his gaze lingering on me. “For there have been strange portents here of late. But pass on now quickly! For the Lord of Minas Tirith will be eager to see any that bear the latest tidings of his son from those who witnessed his fall, be he man or-”

“Hobbit,” Pippin interjected. “Little service can I offer to your lord, but what I can do, I would do, remembering Boromir the brave.”

Ingold drew closer as we attempted to ride by, snagging a rein and stopping me as he peered up, trying to see past the shadow of my hood. “And what of you, the silent companion from the North, with a strange bearing and a strange name. You bore witness to the fall of the beloved Boromir but add naught to the tale. Where at least do you hail from?”

I looked down into the dark eyes fringed by equally dark hair and spoke quietly, letting my voice deepen and gravel to hide my nature. “I am a traveler. I hail from wherever I happen to be.”

Gently urging my horse on, I moved past Ingold, who had no choice but to let me or create a scene.

“Fare you well!” he called out to us. “May you bring good counsel to Denethor in his need, and to us all, Mithrandir! But you come with tidings of grief and danger, as is your wont, they say.”

“Because I come seldom but when my help is needed,” Gandalf called back. “And as for counsel, to you I would say that you are over-late in repairing the wall of the Pelennor. Courage will now be your best defense against the storm that is at hand-that and such hope as I bring. For not all the tidings that I bring are evil. But leave your trowels and sharpen your swords!”

Though I held my tongue, I couldn’t find any fault in Gandalf’s words. I too very much doubted how long their hard efforts would last.

“The work will be finished ere evening,” Ingold answered with a shake of his head. “This is the last portion of the wall to be put in defense: the least open to attack, for it looks towards our friends of Rohan. Do you know aught of them? Will they answer the summons, think you?”

“Yes, they will come. But they have fought many battles at your back. This road and no road looks towards safety any longer. Be vigilant! But for Gandalf Stormcrow you would have seen a host of foes coming out of Anórien and no Riders of Rohan. And you may yet. Fare you well, and sleep not!”

As we rode away, I could sense the disheartenment of the men, yet their resolve remained steadfast. Even against the words of a wizard, they would complete their appointed task as they could before the onslaught began. Having been a Marine, I could appreciate their resolve to follow orders even in the face of their own doubts.

Our horses were left at the gate of the Citadel, and we were admitted without a word. An aura of heavy stillness and apprehension filled the air as we walked to the Citadel. Guards were scattered around the area, surrounding the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree stood withered.

Pippin and I both paused at the sight of the decaying tree, wondering at the beauty it once must have beheld, but Gandalf soon sent us a hurried wave, signaling for us to catch up with him.

We passed the silent door-wardens and finally Gandalf spoke quiet words of warning. “Be careful of your words, Master Peregrin! This is no time for hobbit pertness. Théoden is a kindly old man. Denethor is another sort, proud and subtle, a man of far greater lineage and power, though he is not called a king. But he will speak most to you, and question you much, since you can tell him of his son Boromir. He loved him greatly; too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike. But under covers of this love he will think it easier to learn what he wishes from you rather than from me. Do not tell him more than you need, and leave quiet the matter of Frodo’s errand. I will deal with that in due time. And say nothing about Aragorn either, unless you must.”

“Why not? What is wrong with Strider?” Pippin whispered. “He meant to come here, didn’t he? And he’ll be arriving soon himself, anyway.”

“Maybe, maybe,” Gandalf answered. “Though if he comes, it is likely to be in some way that no one expects, not even Denethor. It will be better so. At least he should come unheralded by us.”

Now the wizard stopped and gave me a once over. I could see him struggling with what to say to me.

“Perhaps it’s best if I hang back and try not to draw any notice to myself,” I offered. “With my hood up and if I can get by with saying only a couple of words at a time, I should still be able to pass myself off as a man, but if I’m forced to say too much, I fear I shall reveal myself.”

He nodded, looking relieved. “Yes, perhaps that is for the best, though I cannot say if it shall be enough.”

Pippin looked back and forth between us, looking like he was about to ask what we were talking about, but Gandalf started forward, again giving Pippin more advice. “See, Master Pippin, there is no time to instruct you now in the history of Gondor-”

My ears shut out the rest of Gandalf words to Pippin as I began looking about the passageway we traversed. Faded tapestries and age-dulled paintings lined our way. I would have liked to have had the time to stop and admire the old works, but as it was, I too was forced to hurry after Gandalf and only caught the passing impression of scenes of past great battles.

Finally, we entered the door to the Great Hall. I stepped to the side and waited just inside the great door, watching as Gandalf and Pippin advanced down the hall towards a figure seated in a stone chair. I glanced at the old man staring at the white rod and another object in his lap, but quickly turned my attention away to survey the Great Hall. I knew as I looked away, just what I’d glimpsed in his lap. The cloven Horn of Gondor.

The hall was a marvel of stonework and masonry. Marble and stone statues and carvings littered the hall, effortlessly walking the fine line between cluttered and tastefully adorned. Even the monoliths towered in elegantly carved black marble. The floor was made of glistening polished white stone, elegantly offsetting the darkness of the black columns.

Unlike the passageway we’d left, the hall bore no artwork of tapestries or oil paintings. Instead, it was a study in the mastery of stone. And though statuary had never been my own favored medium of art, I couldn’t deny the elegant pull of the stone-adorned hall. Well-rendered paintings could transport a viewer into the scene, rendering emotion and giving the feel of presence in the piece.

But the statuary here was altogether different. Instead of portraying a scene and its emotion, these statues captured a moment for all time. And an image of all that had been to form that culmination. I stepped closer to one of the statues, examining the lines etched into the face it rendered. Paintings put the viewer into the present, but in this statue, I could very nearly see the heartaches and worries that had carved every crease and shadow in the figure’s expression.

I absently heard their voices as man, wizard, and hobbit spoke, but only passingly listened as Pippin told his tale of Boromir’s untimely fall. I almost feared that if I bent all of my focus upon listening to their conversation, that it might draw unwanted attention to myself. But thankfully, Pippin told his tale plainly, leaving me out and focusing on the mighty Boromir.

I glanced up from my place in the shadows, watching again as Pippin withdrew his sword and laid it at the steward’s feet. And I continued watching as Denethor ceremoniously accepted his service and Pippin swore fealty to his new lord. My stomach churned as he foreswore himself to the steward, yet I knew and could feel Pippin’s pride in swearing his allegiance to a great man and easing his debt for the loss of Boromir, so as I had so often done, I bit my tongue and remained silent. I’d foresworn myself to my own country, and I could not stop Pippin from choosing his own path of honoring those lost.

“What of your silent and shrouded companion,” Denethor called out, attracting my attention. “Step forward from the shadow and reveal yourself.” My attention snapped to the steward at his command, and I saw Gandalf stiffen in response.

“Come forward,” he commanded again at my hesitation.

Gandalf remained stiff, but finally gave a curt nod. Seeing no other option, I stepped out of the shadow I had hoped would shield me.

As I stepped to the dais, I saw that servants had pulled more chairs and a stool for Pippin out, as well as laying out a small feast. I stepped near where Gandalf stood, but stayed a few paces back, hoping beyond hope that Denethor would be satisfied with my silent presence.

“What is your name?” he wondered, standing and imperiously walking closer.

“Our companion is called Lane, and is but a traveler from the far North,” Gandalf supplied before I could determine what to say.

Denethor stopped in front of me. Though wizened by age, Denethor was still a tall and proud man, and even though he stooped to catch sight of my face, could not see past the shadow of my downturned gaze and thick hood.

“A strange name to match such strange company,” Denethor wondered, “but do you speak aught but strange words, or can you bring forth thoughts of your own in our tongue rather than letting the wizard speak for you?” he continued. His words were not spoken unkindly, yet they hinted a touch of coyness, and I knew that the steward would not be satisfied with the wizard answering for me.

“I do not speak when I have nothing to add,” I quietly replied, hoping the answer would satisfy him.

“Nobel indeed, one who knows the virtue in speaking when there are matters of worth and holding their tongue to frivolous affairs. Yet I would hear your words, for I feel that much you may have to offer without your tongue being classified flippant. I have heard the tale from our Halfling friend, yet I sense there are pieces to the telling which are missing. Speak plainly; were you too, witness to my son’s demise or one who did so call him friend?” the steward pressed.

“I am one who called him friend until his end, and though I too bore witness to his fall, there is aught I can add to ease a father’s troubled heart than that which Peregrin has already told,” I explained.

Denethor stepped even closer as I finished, he raised his hand, and I thought he would push my hood back himself, but he merely gestured at it. “Remove your hood,” he commanded, though his tone softened, and I feared he was beginning to understand what he would find.

Seeing no other option but to rudely leave my hood in place, I slowly swept it back, letting it fall into place behind me, and revealing the face I was sure was weary and travel-stained.

And wholly feminine.

“A woman?” he quietly wondered. Looking back a Gandalf, he continued, “And what place has a woman in all of this, disguised though as a man.”

Gandalf had spoken in my stead enough, so I answered before he could and drawing the steward’s attention back to me. “I dress as I always have, not to disguise or deceive, but for practicality. My path has never been lined by linen and lace, but rather by brawn and battle.”

“Battle?” he repeated incredulously. “What does a woman know of battle?”

“I have seen more of it than your seasoned soldiers, and I have seen many felled by it, your mighty son not the least of them.” Though I was trying to maintain my insistence in my choices, I was also very aware that I was speaking to the Steward of Gondor, and trying to check my tongue and speak to him courteously.

He paced around me, curiously studying me. I held my chin high and maintained the strict attention that had been pounded into my head since basic training as he circled me.

“From where do you hail, that the head of your house would allow a woman to so bear such dangerous armaments?” he pondered. His disapproval was tangible, yet he wasn’t disdainful, as I’d expected.

“My country is far beyond any lands known here. And I have no husband nor have I a father in my life to speak against any such choice I may make. Yet while it is uncommon that women join our men in battle, it is not forbidden in my country.” I turned my head to the side to meet Denethor’s gaze. “I have not hearth and home nor husband to take my time, so I gave my skills and usefulness to my country’s military. What better use could I have made of myself and my skills? My country has accepted that an enemy killed by a woman, is just as dead as one killed by a man.” I chose to neglect pointing out that when I had served as a Marine, I had in fact been married; the fact would have only confused matters.

“And you have slain men in battle?” he queried, moving back to stand in front of me as he appraised me.

“Uncounted,” I replied shortly. I knew I hadn’t killed such scores of men that the number was uncountable; I had merely not been the kind of person who numbered such things. “And I have slain many Orcs since I began my journey with the others, and many more in the battle at the Deep.”

Denethor considered it for a moment. “Greatly do I doubt the wisdom of Lord Elrond in choosing to send a woman with the number that left Rivendell. So how pray tell, how did you come to join my son and his companions?”

I answered as truthfully as I could. “I was lost in an unfamiliar territory when our paths crossed. I chose to accompany them to Lothlórien and then I chose to continue with them afterwards.”

Again, he stopped to consider my words carefully. “Then you were present when my son fell?” he finally asked.

With a nod, I answered, “Yes. I fought beside him until he was pierced by many arrows. And even then, he fought valiantly on though he knew his lifeblood had been spilt. Though I was loath to leave his side, I followed his last wish, and turned away to try and protect the hobbits from harm.”

“Yet they were taken captive.”

“Yes, I was struck in the head from behind and taken as well.”

Denethor’s hand came up to thoughtfully stroke his chin. “I can understand the desire to capture the Halflings, but what would have been the advantage to capturing you?”

I could see the intelligent gleam in his eyes. Denethor was no fool and a master in the art of manipulating conversation. He knew, or perhaps had even seen something in his palantír about why I had been captured, but I was more than masterfully well versed in the art of half-truths and deception. If Denethor only suspected there was something more, I would do nothing to confirm why Saruman had wanted my capture.

“I am a woman. I can think of a dozen different uses for the captivity of a woman thought helpless, as I’m sure you and any other man can as well,” I bluntly told.

As expected, a faint flush came to the steward’s cheeks at my brazen words. But mercifully, he let the subject drop.

He stepped away, looking back towards Pippin and Gandalf, both of whom seemed equally as abashed by my forthright statement. Although, Gandalf also seemed more than slightly disapproving.

Denethor turned back towards me and I noticed the slightest tug of a smile. “You remind me of my son,” he whispered so lowly I doubted the others hear. “He was a warrior born, and more than once uncouth language passed his lips.”

Laughing, I replied, “I’m surprised by that. He never missed an opportunity to upbraid me for my own ‘uncouth’ language. Said it wasn’t fit for a ‘lady.'” I shook my head. “He was an honorable man and I mourned his death as a friend.”

Looking up into the steward’s eyes, I was surprised to see such tenderness replace the calculating gleam that had always seemed alight in them. We held each other’s eyes for a moment, sharing a moment’s look into a man we’d both known, in a light we hadn’t seen him in before.

But then, Denethor cleared his throat and looked away. When his eyes returned to mine, the tenderness was again buried, and the shrewd look had returned.

“You seem to have valued my son’s worth as highly as Master Peregrin has shown. And you too have said that you fought beside him until his last, yet I wonder at your presence here. The Halfling has shown his love and devotion to my son by laying his sword at my feet. Yet you sought to remain hidden in the shadows.”

Drawing a deep breath, I answered the challenge head-on that he had tapped around. “I’m sure Master Peregrin shall serve you as ably as any can in the coming days. More so than any shall ever think to expect of him. Himself included I fear. But my days of pledging my service to any lord or nation are passed. I pledged my service to my country’s flag some time ago, and though I no longer serve under her banner, I cannot in my heart foreswear to another. My sword-arm will gladly lend aid to your cause in the coming battle, but I cannot swear allegiance again.”

He considered for a moment. “If you have sworn service to your own country, why then are you here? What is this country you have sworn to, and why do you not serve them still?”

“As Gandalf said, my country is far away, but it matters not, there is not a single one of my countrymen in all of Arda. I am alone here. And as my country always tried to lend aid to other nations in need during their own times of war and strife, so I will do likewise again.”

“You think I and my captains will see fit to place a woman in the heart of battle?” he asked, not seeming nearly as incredulous as he had when I’d first revealed myself.

“King Théoden and his men came to recognize my worth in battle. And as I told him, I have no liege that can order me from it. I will lend my hand where I see the need for it.”

I braced myself for anger from Denethor at my brash words, but it never came.

“I can see why a friendship was formed with my son. He too was bold.”

He turned away, not consenting to my joining his soldiers in battle, but also not trying to forbid it. I considered that more of a victory than I could have hoped for.

“Lead the Lord Mithrandir to the housing prepared for him,” Denethor loudly proclaimed, “and his Halfling companion may lodge with him for the present, if he will. But be it known that I have sworn him to my service, and he shall be known as Peregrin son of Paladin and taught the lesser pass-words.” He turned to look at me again. “The lady may be given a room nearby as well, with proper accouterments, of course.” He looked away again. “Send word to the Captains that they shall wait on me here, as soon as may be after the third hour has rung.

“And you, my Lord Mithrandir, shall come too, as and when you will. None shall hinder your coming to me at any time, save only in my brief hours of sleep. Let your wrath at an old man’s folly run off, and then return to my comfort!”

“Folly?” Gandalf scoffed. “Nay, my lord, when you are a dotard you will die. You can use even your grief as a cloak. Do you think that I do not understand your purpose in questioning for an hour the ones who know the least, while I sit by?”

Denethor spoke in return to Gandalf, but my mind was lost in thought as I studied the steward. Wizened and gray, but he had certainly not lost any sharpness of mind. I realized that Gandalf had been exactly right, though Denethor’s grief for his son was more than palpable to my extra senses, he did not let his grief hinder him. Instead, he used even it to his advantage, pulling what information he could about his son and the Fellowship from Pippin, and then even getting more information out of me than I had intended. But he’d seen the obvious grief and sorrow both Pippin and I shared with the Steward for his son, and so played his part as the grieving father expertly to extract further knowledge from us both.

I wasn’t sure whether to be pissed at not having seen it sooner, or to applaud his masterful efforts. Another reason I never wanted to climb the ranks in the Marines. I may have the advantage of reading minds, but I’ve never had the head for the elaborate tap-dances of politics.

As Gandalf, Pippin, and I left the Great Hall, I threw on last lingering look at the steward seated on his stone chair at the base of the steps to the throne. He’d again picked up the Horn of Gondor, cloven in two. And I could feel the great weight of grief welling again inside him.

I couldn’t help but admire him. A lesser man would have allowed his grief to swallow him whole and left all around him to ruin, but Denethor had used any trick at hand to his advantage in trying to further the hope for victory for his people. He was overwhelmed with despair that nothing he could do would be enough to change the tide against the horde he saw in the palantír marching from Mordor, but still, he would do anything to save his protectorate.

It was worth admiration.

A/N: Well, that seemed like a good place to end this chapter. Any dialog that looks familiar is the work of Tolkien, and I did use a bit more of it in this chapter than I normally do, but it was somewhat necessary as Lane wasn’t always stepping away from the action or creating her own scenes as she usually does. So I hope you can forgive the further inclusion of Tolkien’s work. I did twist some of it to better fit Lane’s inclusion in the scenes.

And I know this chapter (as well as the next several) doesn’t feature Legolas, but he’ll be back. As usual, I’m mostly following the books, so those of you who were expecting crazy Denethor, sorry, he’s no more a psycho than Boromir was in the books, and I’m doing my best to portray them as nobly (but flawed) as they were in Tolkien’s work.

Also, as it was pointed out, I know in the last chapter Lane refers to Éowyn as being younger than she truly was by Tolkien’s works. In the book, she is I think 24 by the time of the War of the Ring, and I’m not changing that. Merely showing that Lane sees her differently. To Lane’s eyes, she looks much younger. And truthfully, she always seemed much younger in my own eyes.

Éowyn was always someone I saw as still very much a girl. Forced to mature in many ways far too soon and far beyond her actual age, but I’ve seen and known this to happen with other people. And often, it has a strange effect on them. While they are matured in many aspects, there can often be parts of their personalities that are stuck in adolescents since they were never allowed to mature naturally and go through all the proper stages of maturity. I’ve always seen Éowyn this way. At the age of 24, she should have been past the time for girlish crushes on men she hardly knew, and she certainly should have been past the age for teenage girl angst in thinking her life was over or not worth living if she couldn’t have the man she wanted.

I know I’m exaggerating a bit, but to an extent, that was what was partly happening with Éowyn. The fatalist teenage drama of “my life is over” was somewhat playing out with her. And it WAS necessary, because she needed to be in Gondor to slay the Witch-King.

I’m just saying that at this point in the books, there was still a lot of maturity she needed to yet gain, and that’s what Lane sees in her and mistakenly thinks she’s actually younger than she is. I wasn’t actually trying to change her age from the books.

But anyway, thanks again to everyone for following me this far. There’s still a wild ride to go, but I hope you all stick it out!

And as always, let me know what you thought!


Chapter 3: Waiting in the Darkness


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