EDORAS, ROHAN - June T.A. 3011
The endless meadows and grassland around Edoras were ignited by the gleam of dew-drops, glimmering like jewels all the way to the horizon. After the shortest night, nature began to stir, and birds greeted the new day with their songs, and for a while, nothing disturbed the peaceful atmosphere as the world was being reborn on the day after Midsummer.
The first light of dawn began to spread over the mountains and bathed the landscape into the soft light of this early summer morning. The temperatures began to rise, and the soft mist rose lazily from the wet grass into the air. And yet the sun had not climbed up much further above the horizon when that peace was broken by the sound of rapid hoof-beats.
A rider appeared over the plains, like wind on the meadows. At fast pace, deeply crouched on the backs of his horse as he urged on his steed. No apparent enemy was on his heels, neither orc nor warg, and yet as he turned into a curve and headed for gates ahead, he accelerated even further.
Floating between a dream and a nightmare, Mearhe suddenly realized that the screams were real. She opened her eyes slowly, trying to focus after a night of feasting and too much mead. She sat up on the bed, trying to ignore a headache. Still faint, but growing louder, the screams which had awakened her continued. Now she could hear heavy footsteps approaching her room.
She crawled from the bed and walked to the window. There was commotion by the stables. For a moment she had a flashback into her nightmare. Lights flickered against the night sky – the roof of her house in the Eastfold was in flames! Bitter smoke bit into her lungs. She could see dark forms darting from shadow to shadow, and could hear the cry of an infant child.
The door of her room swung open and a rider covered in mud and in dry blood came into her presence. A tall man with broad shoulders, and long blond hair braided and pulled back. Dressed in a large fur cloak, holding a battered helmet in one hand, and the hilt of his sword in the other. His breathing was heavy and fast. Mearhe looked at him and her body shivered and her head began to spin. She knew even before any word was spoken.
“My son…” she spoke. The man lowered his head in a silent nod.
Now that the rider had come to the Golden Hall of Meduseld, and dispatched news from the Eastfold to Mearhe, her heart and body were broken. Her composure and strength deserted her at the thoughts of orcish hands touching the most precious thing she had left in the world. So this is how it feels to have the heart ripped from the chest. Like wildfire, the news of the orc attack on Mearhe's Halls spread through Edoras.
The doom of her House did not end with the death of her husband. For it is not yet a year since the bitter tidings came that Léofwine, the man of her life was betrayed and ambushed and slain upon the shores of the Great River, and now, under the beloved earth of Rohan, he lays beneath a new mound and his house is empty, in ruin, and ....heirless. Her son was gone, most likely killed, and not for the first time, Mearhe wished death upon herself.
There she stood, her face pale and her eyes blazing with blue fire, and the messenger's heart went out for her. So brave she was, so strong and so devoted, as darkness closed in on her. Had she not been born in the body of a woman, she could have become a Marshal of the Mark one day. But being just a 'daughter' of men, she had spent her entire life sheltered in the halls, without a chance to raise her sword against any foe. This was about to change.
And in this instant, faced with the worst of news, the fire of battle of the Éothéod burned brightly in her heart, kindled by the pride and honor of her forebearers . A fire like that could not remain contained in the golden cage of Mearhe's heart for long without consuming her from the inside. And in his heart the messenger swore secretly that should he ever get the chance to free that fire from its prison, he would do so.
The father and the son were gone, nothing would ever be the same. The only comfort for Mearhe was the knowledge they were together. The Father and the Son in the Halls of the Ancestors.