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Of Closed and Open Doors  by WhiteTree

Lindion frowned as he inspected Halel’s wound in her side. 

“It’s just not healing.”

As he tied the new bandage in place and lowered her top over it, she stirred awake. 

“It is Lindion,” he informed her.

Just then, a nurse entered and meekly walked to stand beside the healer, her hands clasped behind her back.

“Master Lindion, I was just tending the Lady Éowyn and mentioned Lady Halel.  She would like to speak with her.”

“Who is she?” asked Halel groggily.

“She is from Rohan, niece of their slain king and sister of his successor.” stated Lindion.  “She rode with the Rohirrim in the guise of a man and fought in the battle on the Pelennor.  She slew the Dark Lord’s chief lieutenant but was sorely hurt.”

Halel’s eyes grew wide with amazement at the thought that another woman had trodden the road to war, especially one of such high birth.  She couldn’t help but to feel amused that the nurse even mentioned her name in the same light as this valiant and noble lady.

“What are her wounds?”

“Her shield arm was broken, the other was rendered lifeless from stabbing the thing, and she was stricken with the Black Breath as you were.” 

“Indeed, I will speak with her,” responded Halel.

“Keep the visit short,” instructed Lindion.

Halel just simply nodded.  At that, the nurse departed the room, followed by Lindion.

She returned shortly, leading a golden-haired woman dressed in a white gown, her arm in a sling.  The nurse curtseyed and departed, leaving the two alone in silence for a short moment. 

“Well met,” she stated as she sat in a chair next to the bed, her sharp blue eyes studying Halel. 

“Likewise.”   Halel felt the moment awkward, mainly due to Éowyn’s grim mood.  Though she was unable to make out the younger woman’s facial features, Halel could perceive despair and sorrow emanating from her companion.  Indeed, she felt as if she were standing in the midst of an icy breeze wafting from the Anduin in the heart of winter.

She shuddered inwardly, cleared her throat, and continued, “All honor and glory to you, Lady Éowyn, for your feats on the battlefield.”

“Thank you.  You are kind”

After a pause, Éowyn continued, “Has everybody in Middle-earth come to look upon you as well?”

Halel let out an exasperated sigh.  “Oh, yes.  I suppose we have provided the gossipers with ample fodder.”

Éowyn smiled sadly and nodded.  And then, “You cut your hair.”

“This again?!”

“I had to.  I served with the Ithilien Rangers who do not use helms as the Rohirrim do.  The cowl I wore was not as effective at hiding my long locks.  Furthermore, the men would go uncovered when at ease.  I did the same, or I would have attracted attention to myself.  I suppose you were able to effectively hide yours during your short service.  But as I was prepared to serve with the Rangers indefinitely, I had to fashion my hair in the manner of men.”

Éowyn nodded.

“What drove you to the killing fields?” asked Halel.

“I am a shieldmaiden, trained in the art of war.”

“I see.”

“And you?”

“It was necessary.”

 Éowyn furrowed her brow, but Halel continued before she could inquire further, “So you wanted to experience war?”

“Yes.”

“And you emerged from your experience marred.  The wraith broke your arm?  And your soul wandered the dark valley?”

Éowyn silently nodded.

“You were fortunate this time.  Is your cause worth it?”

“For a glorious death in battle?  Indeed.”

This response gave Halel pause.  The chill returned, and she wondered what haunted this woman to the point that she deliberately sought to destroy herself.

“And what if you are denied a noble eternal sleep, Lady?  What if you are maimed so severely that you are doomed to endure a life of disability and disfigurement instead?  What man would want you then?”

Halel paused before continuing, “I was also recalled from that place.  And…..”  She folded the hem of the cover down and partially pulled up her top to reveal the bandage across her midsection.  Reaching down with her left hand, she repeated the procedure, flipping over the cover and slit in her skirt to show her leg bound from mid-thigh to ankle and supported by multiple pillows.  “And I’m now partially blind from a blow to the back of my head.  Do you yearn for another taste of war?”

Éowyn cleared her throat, “I truly pity you for your fate.  But my destiny is on the field of battle.”

Halel sighed wearily, “As you wish, Lady.”

“Why did you feel your service was necessary?”

“To follow my husband.”

With this, Éowyn’s eyes grew wide, “Your husband allowed you to accompany him to war?”

“He felt compelled to join the Rangers after Orcs slew his family.  And since there was nobody with whom I could stay, we agreed that I would go with him.  When I suggested it, he did not seem surprised.  So I believe he had been considering the idea before I even approached him with it.  Nevertheless, it was a troubled decision for both of us and not one made lightly.”

Éowyn bowed her head and quietly began to weep.  Suddenly, she rose in haste and fled.

Halel wondered at her behavior and then whispered into the empty chamber, “I pray you find peace, Lady.”





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