Just before the breaking of the dawn many people were already awake in the city of Edoras. The activities were overflowing. Bakers were baking bread in their ovens, stable hands were letting the Méaras walking, the watches were traded. In front of the Golden Hall of Meduseld stood a company of Riders.The morning sun shone brightly upon their helmets and sparkled upon the steel of their spears. The fiery horses snorted and stomped impatiently with their hooves on the ground. Their well tended fur shone in the sunlight. The Éorlingas were waiting for their captain.
Several seconds later the doors of the stronghold opened. The first who was to come out was King Éomer himself. With respect the Éorlingas bowed for their king.
"Hail, King of the Mark!"
Éomer smiled and raised his hand as a greeting. Queen Lothíriel emerged from the doors as well and joined her husband. Shining like the early morning light she looked up at him and he looked lovingly at her, while he took her hand. The royal couple had come to wave their son goodbye.
Elfwine emerged from the stronghold shortly after his parents. He placed his helmet upon his head and then his equipment was complete. At his side was his sword and on his back he carried a quiver with arrows and a bow. The worth of that weapon had he learned to acknowledge by the people of his mother, but most by Legolas, an Elf from Eryn Lasgalen and one of the Nine Companions. The young prince of Rohan was ready to ride to the north. He walked to Wingfoot and mounted his fiery horse. Then he turned to his parents.
"This shouldn't take long, father. We should be back again within two days, tomorrow evening at its latest."
" Do not underestimate the Orcs, son. They are tougher opponents than you think. "
Lothíriel supported her husband. She had a difficult time realising that her son was not a little boy anymore, but had become a man. To her he was still her little boy.
Elfwine had not been a very difficult child. He seemed much like both of his parents, could be calm as well as tough and fiery and he loved battle. Also had he inherited the love for horses of his father. It surprised no one that the boy could ride a horse before he could walk.
"Listen to your father, Elfwine. He knows what he's talking about."
"Yes, mother. Do not worry, I can handle it. Besides, I made a promise to Master Holdwine I would kill some Orcs for him."
Elfwine grinned and blew his horn, that had been made especially for him. "Forth Éorlingas!!!" Then Elfwine and his éored left Edoras.
Several hours passed without anything happening and Elfwine and his men made very good time. The horses were walking greedily, glad they could stretch their legs again for a long ride. The weather was helping the Riders as well. They passed several valleys, in which the Rohirrim had built settlements, without stopping.
One of the scouts Elfwine had sent ahead returned to him. The Rider saluted. "What have you found, Godric?"
The young man answered immediately. "No good news, my lord. Not far from here lies the corpse of one of our men. He's been shot in the back and he carried a message."
Quickly Elfwine took the piece of paper and started to read. Then he looked up again at his men. "We have to make haste. The Orcs have attacked the settlements." And so they urged their horses to run.
In the afternoon Elfwines éored reached a smoking settlement. It was suspiciously quiet, more quiet than usual. Elfwine ordered his men to stop. Silently the Riders dismounted. The ones who had brought bows along held these ready. Carefully they searched through the settlement. What they saw, made their stomachs turn around. All buildings had been destroyed. The roofs, made of straw, were still smoking. Between the ruins lay the mutilated corpses of the inhabitants. No one had been spared. Shocked, Elfwine stepped backwards when he discovered the corpses of a couple of children. He had to try his best not to vomit where he was standing.
"What in Helm's name happened here?"
The Rohirrim turned around and looked at the Rider who had spoken that question out loud. It was a young man, younger than Elfwine, with the name Alnoth. The horror was displayed on his face. One of the elder Rohirrim of the éored answered him.
"Orcs, my boy. This is the handywork of Orcs. Those foul beasts are known for their urge to destroy."
Elfwine walked back to his horse and mounted it again. "We must continue and try to catch up with them. Let's pray it is not too late for the other settlements. The dead will be buried later."
Without hesitation the Rohirrim followed the orders of their young captain, burning with the desire to face those Orcs.
The Rohirrim hunted across the plains of their beloved country. Their will to stop the Orcs before they would make matters worse was urging them on. The horses ran as fast as they could carry their riders. Sweat was dripping over their fur. Elfwine rode in the front. The tail of his helmet flowed behind him and his dark hair waved in the wind as well, caused by his speed. His eyes were no longer blue, but small fires burning of feistiness. Several thoughts flashed through his mind. What should he do if they were too late? What if they were still on time? And how would he have to get the people into safety that quickly? Would it be a larger band of Orcs than had been thought? And what if it was? These men were under his command and if something happened to them, then he was the one responsible for that. Elfwine tried to banish those thoughts from his mind. First they had to find those Orcs and then he would see further.
Two of the Rider who had gone further to scout the area, returned and reported their news to their captain. "A great amount of smoke is gathering in the air. I think we might have found the Orcs, sir. "
Elfwine did not think for a moment and signalled Wingfoot to ride faster. He grabbed his horn and blew it several times loudly.
"Forth Éorlingas!! For the Mark!"
"For the Mark!!"
Furious and determined the éored resumed it's way, ready to face the Orcs.
It didn't take long before Elfwines éored reached the place where the smoke was coming from. The settlement was not very big, at the most a man or 100, excluding the horses. Most of the houses, including the great barn, were on fire. In panic the people ran into every direction possible. The animals had escaped. Between the houses there had clearly been a fight. On the ground lay corpses of several beings. The horn of Elfwine could be heard everywhere and made the noises stop. People came out of their shelters to see what was going on. They started to cheer out loud when they saw the son of their King and his éored.
"Elfwine! Elfwine for Éomer!"
"Elfwine for the Éorlingas!"
As soon as they had reached the settlement, the men dismounted. Elfwine left his horse to one of his men. The head of the settlement rushed forward to greet Elfwine and lowered himself onto one knee.
The young man signalled the man to rise. "Please, leave the formalities behind, good sir. I did not come here for this."
"It is good to have you here, my lord. The Orcs..."
"How many of them?"
"At least 150, sir. They fled as they heard your horn, but I think they will come back here soon."
"Then we must make a new defense quickly."
Quickly Elfwine ordered his men to catch the running animals. The remaining inhabitants of the village were placed into the basement underneath the great barn. Fires were put out, but the rest remained as it was. Archers hid upon the roofs of the houses and the others of the éored remained in the barn until the Orcs would attack. When everything was ready, all they could was wait for a new attack.
The Orcs did not make them wait for long. A cloud of dust rose above the plains of Rohan and approached at great speed. The archers held their bows ready, to make the first attack. The roars fo the Orcs cleaved the deadly silence and made the remaining inhabitants of the village shiver. As soon as the first Orcs appeared between the piles of ruin, several arrows shot through the air. They hit their targets and several Orcs fell down to the ground. The others did not pay any heed to it. They just ran through.
At that moment the Riders jumped out of their hiding places. They threw themselves onto their enemies, determined to make an end to their miserable lives. The Orcs on the other hand didnt know the word stop at all either. In groups they attacked every single Rider. Their desire to kill and destroy was great. Elfwine fought along in the first wave. His sword Fyrblead, a gift of the King Elessar and Queen Arwen Undomiel of Gondor and Arnor, sparkled in the sunlight and lowered repeatedly into his foes.
The young prince had a very own opinion about the task of high rank officers. They had to fight along in battles to give the good example and be an inspiration for the other soldiers. For if they did not find it worth it to die for the good cause, then why would a normal soldier do that?
Even at his young age Elfwine was a charismatic leader, loved by many. There was no doubt that he would become just as great a leader as his father was now, when his time would come.
One of the Orcs caught Elfwine off his guard and threw himself upon him. The young prince cried out as he fell to the ground, crushed by the weight of the rather large Orc. His sword fell out of his hands and now he was defenceless. Other Orcs saw what happened to the leader of the Humans and grabbed the chance with both hands. They too went to have a good kill. Elfwine tried to defend himself with his fists and feet, but he was outnumbered and overpowered. There was no way he could escape and his companions were too occupied themselves to come to his aid.
The young Marshal of the Mark fought with everything he had inside him, determined not to give in to the foul creatures that tried to kill him. He was lucky. The Orcs had started to fight amongst themselves about who was allowed to kill the Prince of Rohan and in the turmoil, Elfwine started to crawl out from underneath them and was able to grab his sword. He crawled onto his feet and finished the Orcs off. When the foul creations of Melkor, the First Dark Lord, realised what was happening, it was already too late. They found their deaths by the hand of young Prince.
Prince of the Mark