Elfwine walked through the corridor of his home, in which he had grown up to maturity. It felt good to be back there again. It was nowhere like it was home and he longed to see his parents again. His eyes dwelled over the paintings on the walls of Rohans history: The Ride of Eorl The Young, Helm Hammerhand and his late uncle, Théoden Ednew.
Then he entered the big hall. There were a lot of people around at this time of day, mostly the advisors of his father, people he trusted the most. In the middle of the hall stood the throne of his father, who sat in it. His mother stood behind it, like Eowyn had done during the last ruling days of Théoden. Éomer rose as he saw his son coming in. The young man of Rohan stood before his father, took off his helmet and saluted to the King of Rohan. Hail, Éomer king. Éomer smiled. At ease, my son. Welcome home. Thank you father. Their tones were very formal now, since they were both in duty of their country at this moment.
"What reports do you bring, Marshall?"
Elfwine took a deep breath. "The villages are peaceful. Everything is well. It was only the day before yesterday that we received disturbing news. It needed our attention."
Éomer raised an eyebrow and urged his son to continue.
"My scouts had returned from the Eastfold and brought news from Lord Elfhelm. A large band of Orcs has entered Rohan. They are a warparty, destroying everything they encounter. Some of the eastern enclaves have already fallen and Elfhelms men have been tracking the Orcs down till the borders of the Eastmark. There we took over. According to my scouts the Orcs are heading towards Edoras."
"Are you sure?"
Elfwine nodded, he was certain of it. "Yes, my King. I have already made certain arrangements for our defense. I have sent half of my eored to the villages that the Orcs will run into first for better defense. I will go out there myself tomorrow again. A group of scouts has made camp near the borders of the Eastmark and as soon as they have news regarding the Orcs, they will send a messenger."
Éomer listened well to the reports of his son and nodded. "I see. The guards of Edoras will be doubled as well. Well done my son."
"Thank you, father."
The formalities were over with and now Queen Lothíriel stepped forward, reaching out to her only child, so she could embrace him.
"Elfwine, I am so glad to see you have come back home safely and sound."
Elfwine kissed his mother on her cheeks and returned the embrace. "I am glad to be back here, so I can see you too again, mother. But you needed not to worry about me. I can take care of myself."
Lothíriel smiled. She still looked very beautiful, even now she was becoming older. "I know. But you will always be my little boy."
The Queen of Rohan took her sons arm and let him and her husband escort her for a walk through Meduseld.
Éomer regarded his only son closely. He had grown again. In more ways than one and that was something he was very proud of. Being his heir, Éomer had wanted Elfwine to prepare for rulership early and that was why he had made his son a Marshal of the Mark at young age, just like had happened to himself. That way he would learn soon what it was like to be responsible for his peoples faith. And from what he heard from the Riders and the other Marshals Erkenbrand and Elfhelm, his efforts were paying off nicely.
When they walked pass an open door, Lothíriel started to smile. "A small friend arrived today as well. He is very anxious to see you." Elfwine looked up.
"A friend? Who?"
"See for yourself." Lothíriel opened the door a little wider and then Elfwine could see the guest.
It was a person who had the height of a child, yet looked older than Elfwine himself. He wore simple garments and was on bare feet. Those feet were rather big too and hairy. The guest was smoking a pipe and was unpacking his things. At his side hung a small horn.
The Hobbit of the Shire, who was the Master of Buckland, looked up from his bag and started to smile. "
Elfwine, my lad!! Its so good to see you!"
Elfwine fell onto his knees and embraced Holdwine, who was otherwise known as Meriadoc Brandybuck of the Shire and knight of the Riddermark. Merry took a few steps backwards. "
Now let me look at you."
Elfwine rose and placed his hands on his waist.
"My my, you've grown, my boy. You're even taller than your father now."
Elfwine grinned. Éomer and Lothíriel smiled proudly and exchanged loving looks.
"Would you like to accompany us on our walk, Master Holdwine? I'm sure you've got a lot to tell." Merry put his travelling gear away and smiled. "Ofcourse."
The four of them left Meduseld and started to stroll down the hill to walk around Edoras. Elfwine and Merry were engaged in a discussion and they exchanged news from both the Shire and Rohan.
"What is happening in the Shire? Is everything well?"
Merry laughed and told him: "Master Samwise's wife Rose is pregnant again."
"Yes. It is not a big surprise. He always wanted a big family. Everything is well. The mallorn is growing greatly. It is one of the most beautiful trees I've seen in the Shire. And how is life here?" I've just returned from a patrol with my éored. Orcs have entered Rohan. I will go back to the plains tomorrow and stand on guard there. Those Orcs will not continue their raids for long."
The young man's voice sounded feisty and he had a grin on his face.
"Make sure to kill one of the foul creatures for me." Merry gave Elfwine a friendly punch on the back.
"I will, Master Holdwine. You could join us if you would like."
Merry thought about that one for a moment.
"No, Elfwine. My time for fighting is over. Ill leave that to you."
Elfwine looked around. "Speaking of fighting. I still have duties to perform. I will see you at dinner."
The Marshall of Edoras gave his mother a kiss on the cheek and then rushed off to his office.
Éomer, Lothíriel and Merry watched the young man rush off and smiled. "He is a fine young man, Éomer. You can be proud of him." Éomer looked at his small and old friend. "I am, Master Holdwine."