A shadow had fallen over the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Everyone was silent and occasionally threw a glance towards the gates. Inside the great hall King Éomer and Queen Lothíriel sat upon their thrones. Their faces looked worried, for their son had not returned home and the only news they had received since his departure was that he had continued to chase the Orcs. Beside them sat master Holdwine and Éowyn, the Lady of Ithilien, and her husband Faramir, who were in Edoras for a visit.
"Brother, you must keep faith. Perhaps Elfwine is only delayed because of the Orcs."
"Then he would have sent a messenger." Éomer rose from his chair. "I am gonna look for him myself."
Before the King could gather his guard, the Doorwarden Beornhelm entered the Hall. He kneeled in front of his King. "Hail, Lord of the Mark." Lothíriel rose from her chair and looked hopefully at the guard. "Any news from my son, Beornhelm?" Slowly the Man of Rohan nodded and looked up at his King. "Yes, my Lord."
Lothìriel released a sigh of relief and fell in her chair. She felt how her husband squeezed her hand and looked at her with relief. Then the King of Rohan turned to the Doorwarden. "Where is our son? What news do you have?"
Beornhelm spoke loudly, but couldnt conceal a slight change in his voice. He spoke with concern and hinted at fear. "He will arrive in Edoras in several minutes, my King, in the arms of his Majesty, King Elessar of Gondor and Arnor."
Éomers eyes widened and he froze for a moment. Lothíriel jumped out of her chair and rushed to his side, to find support, for she did not know if she would be able to stand. Her knees where trembling and her face was as pale as her white dress. Éowyn was held by her husband. She was concerned about her nephew, for she loved him dearly and her thoughts were with her brother and his wife. What had happened?
Without further speaking, the King and Queen of Rohan rushed outside of the Golden Hall, anxious to see their son and filled with worries for him. Beornhelm walked after them. They looked out over Edoras and saw a rider with a sparkling brow riding up the hill that led to Meduseld. The royal couple knew that it was their friend King Elessar. Éomer did not wait. He climbed down the stairs and reached Elessar when he had stopped his horse.
Elessar dismounted and raised the unconscious body of his friends son off the horse, to take it in his arms and bring it towards Éomer. The King of Rohan couldnt believe his eyes and took Elfwine's body out of Aragorns arms. It was like a bad dream, to see his son in his current state.
Lothíriel cried out as she saw the scene and rushed down the stairs to get to her son. Tears ran over her cheeks as she saw Elfwine's injuries and pale face. Her hand trembled as she reached out to touch her son's cheek and she felt him stir beneath it. Then she looked at Aragorn. "My lord, what has happened?"
Aragorn shook his head. "I will explain later. Right now my first concern is your son. We must take him inside and put him in bed. I will see to his wounds."
Éomer wasted no time. He carried his son swiftly into Meduseld, to his chambers. He was followed by Aragorn, his wife and sister.
A strange light appeared before Elfwines eyes. It cast away the darkness he had been in for so long. Flashes of his life rushed pass his eyes. Faces of the people he knew and loved. He reached out to them, but as he nearly touched them, they faded and were out of his reach. He desperately called out to his loved ones, but it seemed as if they could not hear him. He was alone
Suddenly new faces appeared before him. He recognized them vaguely. They seemed familiar. Voices, he heard their voices calling out to him, to come back and he reached out to grab hold of it.
"Elfwine, come back."
"Listen to me, Elfwine. Return to us."
Elfwine stirred and shifted slightly. A groan was suppressed in the back of his throat. His eyelids moved and slowly but surely the young man became conscious again. He opened his eyes, but it took a while before he was completely aware of his surroundings. A moan escaped his lips and he brought a hand to his brow.
Then he heard a voice say: "Welcome back, Elfwine." The prince looked up and saw an older man sitting in a chair next to his bed. The man wore finely made garments and wore a star on his brow. "Where am I," Elfwine groaned.
"Home. In Edoras."
Then the young prince recognized the voice and face. "Lord Aragorn!" Aragorn smiled gently. "Yes, it is I. I brought you here after we found you on the plains."
Hearing those words Elfwine remembered what had happened and struggled to sit up straight. "The Orcs! My men! I..." A firm hand pushed him back into the pillows. "Easy, young one. You are injured and you need rest."
Elfwine looked at his host. "How long have I been unconscious?" "Nearly four days. You have had us all frightened for several times."
Éomer and Lothíriel entered the room and came to stand at the side of the bed. Lothíriel smiled and ran a hand through her son's hair. "What a blessing it is to see you awake. I was so afraid." Elfwine struggled to keep his eyes open. "Am sorry. I did not want this."
"Ofcourse you didn't. But it matters not, my dearest. All that matters is that you are home safe with us."
The young prince closed his eyes and returned to the lands of slumber. Aragorn rose from his chair and urged Elfwine's mother and father out of the room. "Let him sleep. He will need it and it will only help to heal his wounds."
Silently the three rulers left the room and returned to their activities, while the young prince of Rohan rested, safely within Meduseld's austere walls.
Prince of the Mark