Several days had passed since King Elessar had found the injured prince Elfwine on the battlefield and had brought him to Edoras. There the young prince of the Rohirrim had been tended and nurtured back to health. And so it was that Eldarion, son of King Elessar and Queen Arwen Evenstar, heir to the thrones of Gondor and Arnor, found his young friend outside of the Golden Hall at another bright day. The prince of Rohan was at the training grounds of his own éored that were, save for his own presence, deserted. Eldarion smirked as he saw how Elfwine strung his bow and aimed at his target. His right arm, with which he held the bowstring, was still bandaged and his face displayed a certain amount of pain next to concentration. A frown appeared on Elfwines fair face as the arrow hit its target, but wasn't as accurate as usual and he sighed. It was then that Eldarion decided to step out of the shadows and join his friend.
"Shouldn't a soldier of the Mark remain in bed when his wounds have not fully healed yet?"
The dark haired young Rohirrim man lowered his weapon as he heard the familiar voice and turned around to look upon a man who seemed quite similar to himself. Same dark hair, same body stature, but with grey eyes instead of blue and a much calmer personality.
Elfwine took up his bow once more and continued his archery training, while he answered his friend. He focussed on his target as he did so.
"I am tired of lying around in that bed all day and being able to do nothing. How can I lay still in there when there is so much work to be done?"
The heir of Gondor fetched himself a bow of his own and a few arrows as well. He positioned himself next to Elfwine and joined the young man of Rohan in his archery practise. Eldarion had no trouble at all with hitting his target.
"It is best to rest and heal now, instead of attending your duties too early and unhealed, risking the wounds to open up again and being forced to keep to bed even longer."
Hearing those words, Elfwine lowered his bow again. He scratched his head, frowned and stared at his feet. There was truth in Eldarion's words and he knew it, but could not follow the advice. Too much energy had been stored inside his body while he rested and it had made Elfwine restless. He did not want to lay in his bed for days and be of no use.
Elfwine walked towards the fences and looked out over Edoras. The capital of Rohan was faring well. Riders were riding on and off, everyone was busy. The children were shouting and running around, playing. Women were singing as they were doing their daily chores. The prince of Rohan smiled and inhaled the scents of the green fields and the horses. There was no place anywhere like Edoras. It was his home and he longed to see and keep it safe, to protect it.
His glance fell upon the fields outside of Edoras, for the view from upon the hill was great. A large group of Riders was approaching the capital city at great speed. Ahead of them rode three other Riders. It seemed as if they were racing towards the city. After a while Elfwine recognized the banner that waved in the wind, and was carried along with the Riders. It belonged to Erkenbrand, Marshal of the Westmark and Lord of the Hornburg. His coming raised many questions in Elfwine's mind.
He turned to Eldarion, who had come to stand beside him. The dark haired fair man smiled as he saw the Lord of the Westfold comign and heard the blowing of the mighty black horn. But Eldarion also noticed the questioning glances that Elfwine threw at him, soon followed aloud by a voiced question.
"Eldarion, what is going on here? Why is the Lord Erkenbrand come to Edoras?"
"Your father has summoned him. Lord Elfhelm already arrived yesterday, while you were still resting, and your grandfather, the Lord Imrahil of Dol Amroth, as well."
"Councils need to be given and taken. Trouble is stirring in the east and south. The hatred and evil of the Dark Lord sewed there have not yet died. Soon my father will ride out to do battle with the Easterlings of Rhûn. He has asked your father to fulfill his oath and join him."
Elfwine frowned as he heard this news. He scratched his head once more and then crossed his arms in front of his chest. Then he threw a glance at Meduseld and Erkenbrands company. A war was at hand? Why did he not know if this and why was he not asked to join this council? He was a Marshal of the Mark as well, after all, even if he were but only 21 years old, the youngest Marshal Rohan had ever known.
Eldarion could guess what was going on in Elfwine's mind. He felt the same way and explained why they were not present at the council. "Your mother begged your father not to tell you of the council and bring upon you burdens of worries and responsibilities while you were recovering from your injuries."
The young prince of Rohan sighed deeply and lowered his head. He bared his teeth and made his hands into fists. "I should have known that was my mother's doing. When will she see I am not a child anymore?"
Eldarion could not help but laugh at those words and gave his friend a friendly punch on the shoulder. Elfwine cringed for a moment, struck by pain. But he released no sound. "No matter how much time passes, Elfwine, mothers will always be mothers. You will always be your mother's little boy."
"I suppose you are right."
The two young men left the training grounds and started walking down the hill on which Edoras was built. While they were walking, they were greeted by the people. Some of them came up to the prince of the Rohirrim, aware of how injured he had been and asking him how he was faring. Elfwine answered to their questions politely. As they said goodbye, Eldarion stated something he had noticed.
"All of the Rohirrim have blond hair, yet you have inherited the darker hair of your mother. How have the responses been to that?"
Elfwine stared at his feet, overthingking his answer, while walking. He inhaled deeply and then sighed. "It was not easy. In the beginning when I was first reached my teens. I was fully aware that I was different. Some people looked down upon me and some still look at me with pity, because I am only half Rohirrim. Yet others have accepted me for who I am."
Before Elfwine could continue, chaos broke out in Edoras. Three horses entered the city at great speed, swiftly following one another. The people of Edoras hurried themselves to any safe place possible. It almost seemed like a herd of horses had escaped from the meadow.
"By Bema, what was that?" exclaimed Elfwine and he swiftly made his way to the horses that had now stopped. Eldarion followed his friend. As they arrived at the scene they saw a girl and two young men dismoutnign from their horses. The girl burst out in laughter as soon as her feet touched solid ground. She turned and stuck her tongue out at the young men. They in turn rolled with their eyes and growled in the backs of their throats. "I can't believe it. Beaten by a girl."
Elfwine had seen enough. A good race was always permissable, but not while entering a busy city like a thunderstorm. He walked over to the three young people and addressed them. "Hail you three. It is nice you enjoy yourselves so. But I must bid you not to enter Edoras so wildly next time. There are people here who might have gotten hurt."
The young men looked up as they heard the low deep voice. Their younger female companion, who resembled them a lot, turned around and stopped giggling. "You need not be so tense, Gondorian. We were merely having a bit of fun. Besides, who are you to have such a say in the city of Éomer King?"
Elfwine's eyes darkened, but he remained calm as he heard the words the blond girl had uttered. His muscles tensed slightly. If she had not been a woman, he might have not been able to resist the desire to hit her, for even if he was half Dúnadan, he had inherited his fathers Rohirric pride.
"Nevertheless he is right. You should have been more careful."
A broad shouldered and firm man came to stand with the young ones. He was dressed like a Marshal of the Mark. At his side hung a great black horn.
"Father!!" exclaimed the three young Riders.
It was indeed Erkenbrand, lord of the Westfold, himself. He looked sternly at his children. They let their shoulders hang forward and stared ashamed at their feet. "We are sorry. We will not do it again."
Erkenbrand looked at Elfwine and saw how tense the young prince was after the insult his daughter had voiced towards him. It was not correct and he would make sure his daughter would realise that.
"And this is not a Gondorian, Heruwyn, but Elfwine, Marshal of the Mark and prince of the Riddermark."
The girl's eyes, Heruwyn's eyes, widened for a moment and she regarded Elfwine from head to toes. Then she frowned and exclaimed: "But he is not blond! A Rohirrim with dark hair? That is unheard of!!"
"Quiet, Heruwyn. This is unappropriate towards your future King."
The Lord of the Westfold tapped his children on the shoulders and urged them into the direction of Meduseld. "Come. I need to report to King Éomer." The teens growled and followed their father unwillingly. Before Erkenbrand turned, he made his apoligies to the young prince, whom accepted them.