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Travellers' Tales ~ Rohan

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alias author Jan Hawke

Joined: 27 Dec 2008
Location: Dunheved Kernow
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  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Travellers' Tales ~ Rohan
    Posted: 12 Apr 2010 at 10:35pm
Travellers' Tales
This is a thread for fan-fiction that is place-specific
Please feel free to post one-off stories, or instalments of longer tales, where the action mostly takes place here in Rohan ('The Questers' Tales' that start this thread are part of a 'road trip' story that roam across the lands of Middle Earth in the 3rd age)
If your story continues in another forum, please include a link so people can find the next part! Wink) 
Both Asfaloth and Filigod loved to run but by the end of the long journey from Rivendell even the two elf-trained horses needed no reining back to conserve their strength. Their riders, Glorfindel, former Lord of the House of the Golden Flower in Gondolin and Janowyn a Wood Elf of the people of Lenwe, the Nandor or Green Elves (who had started the Great Journey when the world was young, but never crossed the Misty Mountains, nor journeyed on into the Blessed Lands), made good use of the long days as they passed into the southlands.


By the time they had passed the land of Hollin that had once been called Eregion, long the pride of the Noldor in the Second Age the two knew each other well and were firm friends. Jano knew much of Glorfindel already of course. Even if she had not been a Bard, all Eldar knew of how he had slain a Balrog after the betrayal of Gondolin and, though he fell and died in the moment of victory, he had been returned by the grace of the Valar to Middle Earth an Age or more later, to aid the Eldar and in particular the heirs of Turgon, Lord of Gondolin and the House of Eärendil in their continuing travails on the Hither Shores. His later history was more sheltered, though he stood high in esteem amongst the people of Imladris and their Lord Elrond, of whom he was a close friend and counsellor.


One night, early into the journey, as they camped under the stars on the northern border of Hollin Jano had asked Fin (as he had asked her to address him) about something that had been troubling her a while. It was a little embarassing for her as she thought she may have offended him once in the Hall of Fire as she sang of his famous battle with the Balrog. He had been very subdued when he had realised what she was about to perform and had left the Hall soon after she finished. It had preyed on her mind for a while, and now they were friends she wished to put things right if they needed to be.
"I was too bold perhaps mellon nín...insensitive? Maybe I should have sung my piece another time and not in your presence? If I offended you in any way then I am truly sorry for it."
Having screwed up her courage all day to ask this of him, she was therefore a little taken aback when Fin had burst out laughing.


"Oh Jano! I am sorry muin... your face!"  He managed with difficulty to control his mirth and address her serious question with a serious reply. "To be honest with you I was uncomfortable yes, but then I always am when I am so 'honoured'. At the time though... your time... all I could think of was how grateful I was that yours was perhaps the shortest accolade I have ever received, and yet one of the most touching in its simplicity and directness."  He looked at her face briefly, then swiftly looked away again when he started to chuckle once more,  as she still looked a little stunned. Instead he looked into the fire and, his lips still twitching into a smile now and again, he tried to explain some more.


"But this has happened many times before to me as I am sure you realised at the time - we caught each other's eye remember - as you got up to sing and I knew then what you would do... say. And you could not look at me, nor I at you after that." He sighed, no longer laughing at himself or at her discomposure, but trying to think of a way to tell her that would not make her feel at fault, for the truth was complicated and truly, he did not think that Bards should not acclaim his great deed in his presence at all.

"It is not embarassment as such - I am past that. I just did what I did. For duty... and for love too I suppose? Have you ever been in a battle Jano? No of course not - you are too young..."

"That is true Fin, but I have fought when my life was in danger or to protect others. My step-father Aldred and all three of my foster brothers were warriors... cavalrymen in the service of Gondor or of Rohan. Aldred taught all of us how to ride and to use a sword and he used to tell us tales of the battles he had fought in - how sometimes a madness can take you into a place where you are no better than a beast and slash and kill without compunction, or thought or reason. No emotion except a rage to destroy whatever is in front of you..."  she hesitated a moment then went on "I have killed too... orcs... I lived in Ithilien close to the Ephel Duath for a long time before I came to Imladris. Once only I felt the madness Aldred spoke of and... he was right. It was horrible and when it was over... I was sick to my stomach and cried and cried..."

Her beautiful sea-blue eyes were wide and sad with the memory and for a brief moment he wanted very much to comfort her with more than words, but he returned his gaze to the fire, nodding a little and spoke softly to her.
"Then you will not be surprised to know that is how it was for me on that day. In a way... your Aldred spoke the truth... it is a terrible thing to be that way in battle. You lose all control, all reason and act... instinctively. It is a primal defence I think, because for the time you are like that, you have no thought of danger to yourself or even to others. All you are is someone else's death... a raging killer."  He kept his eyes on the flames, watching the writhing forms and remembering what little he could... the eyes blazing hate and darkness, the fiery whip, the pure white-hot evil that matched his own rage and abhorrence...
"Had I not been in that place where you become your own hatred... where you will tear and rend and destroy anything in your reach, I doubt I could have fought that creature, let alone kill it. I was a soldier, a seasoned warrior and it had never happened to me before. I was good, even great, and had never known true fear - I knew my craft well. Was always cool and competent. Yet as we fled the city I was terrified - we all were I think, for we had never before seen such destruction or horror... and... the relief when Tuor and Idril led us away through the mountain."  He paused, hardly aware she was listening now, wrapped up in the memory. "Then just as we thought we had won free that... thing... was there and for a moment there was shock and fear and then... nothing except a desire... a need... greater than any hunger or lust. I wanted it gone - obliterated and I really do not remember anything else after that except the roaring heat and the smell of burning metal... cloth... flesh... then nothing at all for so long."


Jano could not shift her gaze from the pale, handsome face staring into the fire, lost in the memory of his own death, and knew this moment would stay with her for the rest of her days. She kept quiet and very still, knowing not to break the silence yet wanting to reach out and touch his hands or his face. At last he turned his kind, grey-blue gaze back to her and smiled gently.


"So there is no need for you to feel bad Jano. I do not remember it too well. All I did was my duty as a soldier and as one of the chief servants of my Lord Turgon, who had already fallen to three of those horrors. Protected and fought for people I loved and honoured. And the rest was fated."  His lips curled into another smile for the beautiful elleth who was looking at him with compassion and understanding.
"What say you to a little night riding? I doubt either of us is going to rest tonight and Fili and Asfaloth have eaten their fill... We have not pushed them too far today really."




They had come a long way now, through Hollin and Dunland and today they had come through the Gap of Rohan. A day or so would see them in Edoras where they would make a final decision on their next destination - Dol Amroth or Lossarnach. In fact he had already half made up his mind in favour of heading west for the Bay of Belfalas and the great sea-fortress. In a way it made sense - pearls came from sea-creatures after all.


He smiled and looked at his lovely companion, for it was mainly for her sake that he wanted to go to Dol Amroth. She had been quieter as they neared the lands of the horse-lords and he knew the reason. Her step-father had been Rohir and she knew the people well, though not for a long time, for she had not been there since she was half-grown nearly two hundred years ago. Yes, they were likely bound for Dol Amroth he thought firmly, as his quest was bound with Jano's - she had lived there for a few years with her mother until she died, and so he was anxious that they concentrate on places in Gondor that she had links to. It was as good a place as any to start looking for his legendary pearl...





Fin and she had been talking about their route ever since they passed through the Gap and her feelings as they rode into Edoras were mixed as she had never been there before, though she was no stranger to the Eastfold. Jano's stepfather had been born and raised there until he met her mother and the two elder of her three brothers had settled there when they married Rohir girls. In a way she was glad they were not journeying so far for her memories of childhood visits there were not all happy. And she had ridden past Edoras without stopping on her way north when she had finally determined to seek out her true Eldar kin in Imladris.


They needed to get provisions otherwise she would have preferred to carry on and then there had been a discussion on whether they should disguise their appearance for Jano knew well that most Rohir were fearful and suspicious of Elves. In the end she thought they could risk being open about their identity - and really it was pointless for Fin to try to pass as a mortal anyway unless she put a bag over his head. They had laughed a lot at that, but in the end she had thought that Asfaloth and Fili would be of more interest to the Horse Lords, and maybe make their owners a little less strange or at least admirable for having such beautiful animals.


"See Jano! No need for a bag at all - not for either of us!"  Fin laughed heartily as they rode into the small town. "It is Asfaloth and Fili they cannot keep their eyes off!"  And so it was, but as they rode into the little market place, there were more mortal women around and although they too looked admiringly at the Elf horses, he started to get a little embarassed at the amount of stares he was getting, especially when they dismounted and their sharp hearing caught gasps and mutterings as to their height and ears from both genders.

Too late Jano flicked her hair over her ears, but still she would have stood out if only for wearing leather trews and a man's shirt, having forgotten that most mortal women wore dresses and that few were warriors. Sighing she looked at Fin and saw how uncomfortable he was at the amount of attention he was attracting.
"You stay here with the horses if you like - I shall be as quick as I can and then we should get out of here I think."

They were giggling at him now! The young ones anyway... Blushing furiously he had to stop himself almost begging Jano not to leave him and simply nodded a curt acknowledgement of her proposal and a gruff,
"Please do not take too long mellon" before turning to his saddlebag which handily happened to be between the two horses and pretended to be completely absorbed in its contents - anything not to have to see the strange looks he was attracting...


As good as her word, Jano swiftly made her way around the stall holders, paying the price asked for the dried goods they needed and not bothering to haggle so she could get Fin out of this place as soon as possible. After a time though she was aware of getting a lot of attention from a young woman herself. She had followed her from the last two stalls at least. As Jano was looking at some herbs and spices the woman suddenly seemed to come to decision and approached her boldly enough, though her fair face looked worried. Jano tried to make the best of it and smiled neutrally at the young mortal.
"Is there something you want of me my Lady?"  She saw then that the mortal Lady was really not long out of girlhood and very agitated, and so she softened her smile and asked more gently "Can I aid you in any way?"  The girl looked mortified but determined and spoke swiftly, her voice low and urgent.

"Are you and your Lord of the Eldar my Lady?" 

Éowyn was almost cringing with embarassment at accosting this beautiful dark-haired stranger so brazenly, but she had to speak to them now before they rode away and left her with even more fears for her ailing Lord. The stranger nodded slightly and, emboldened, she pressed on before her courage failed.
"I need your help but I cannot talk to you or your Lord here in so public a place. Please, please come with me to Meduseld and I promise I will be grateful to your forever!"


She really was very young and very, very upset and Jano was touched by her frantic appeal as well as a little intrigued. The girl was almost in tears now and people were beginning to stop and stare at them.
"Hush child." She wanted to put her arm around the girl to comfort her but something told her this was not wise. The girl was well-spoken and had talked of the King's Hall, so perhaps it was best to simply do as her heart told her and go with the distressed young woman.
"We cannot stay here long but if you need our help  so much then of course we will go where you can tell how we can do so."  Gently she took the girls arm and started to walk back towards Fin and the horses. "I am named Janowyn but most call me Jano and my companion is Fin - we are from Eriador."

"Oh thank you so much!"  She laughed at little when she heard the Elf's name. "I am Éowyn, sister-daughter of Théoden King and I am so glad I saw you coming into the market I cannot tell you how mu..."  Her voice faltered and died as they approached Jano's companion. She had only seen him from a distance as she had run down to the marketplace from the Hall but now she was gazing on the first ellon she had ever seen in her life and she was open-mouthed with amazement. Never before had she seen a male so beautiful, or so tall!


What was Jano doing now! He was about to bolt around to the other side of Asfaloth when something in Jano's eye stopped him and he looked a little closer and saw for  himself that the young mortal was obviously very distressed. He turned back to Jano, looking for an explanation, for this child was obviously beyond words now.

Swiftly Jano told Fin what little she could gather of Éowyn's concerns and all three of them headed up to the Hall. Once there the young Lady of Rohan took them to the stables and there she told them of her predicament. How her uncle Théoden had been stricken down, made old and feeble before his time and that she had been trying without success to find some cure from the healers. The young noblewomen was crying quietly now as she explained how nobody had known what was wrong with the King or how to treat his ills. But then one old wise women had said that maybe the Eldar knew of a remedy where the mind and body had been so enfeebled and of a plant from which an elixir could be made that might set him aright. Jano looked at Fin who shrugged helplessly.
"Elrond is the healer, not me as you know mellon nín."

"Did the wise woman say what this plant was Éowyn?"

"She said it was called 'kingsfoil' my Lady Janowyn - Oh! And that in the hands of a King it was a very powerful medicine."


"Just Jano is fine Éowyn..."  Jano answered absently, her mind racing for she knew some of the properties of the weed kingsfoil, or athelas as the Elves knew it, and was fairly certain that there was no King left alive now who could use athelas on a mortal effectively...
She told Éowyn this as kindly as she could whilst Fin listened quietly, looking so sorry for the young mortal woman. He gave her a strange look as she told the girl about athelas not being a cure-all for humans.


"But it has to be!"  Éowyn was crying in earnest now and pushed Jano away as she tried to put her arms around her and comfort her as best she could, but the mortal was beside herself with worry and frustration.
"She said the old kings would come back one day! So we have to find the plant! We have to! So he can use it to help my uncle when he does comes back! But nobody knows where it grows! And no one here knows what to do - I thought you could help me!" 

She collapsed onto a hay bale and sobbed for a little while. Jano came and sat beside her and this time Éowyn let her hold her gently until she had got herself back under control.


Fin was thinking hard. It was true he was no Healer, but he was a Lord of Imladris and he knew a lot of things hidden from other Elves. But he had to be very careful of what he said.
"Sometimes... old wise women know about things that are long forgotten by others. Maybe somewhere there is a king of the old line in hiding, but we cannot know that for sure, nor when he might return."  He saw Jano look at him as though he were mad to be giving the young mortal false hopes. He spoke next to them both. "You may be right Jano and this herb will not bring any relief to Éowyn's Lord, but perhaps not. There are many strange things in this world and we cannot know it all, only the gods can and even then they cannot always see the end of all things."


Éowyn looked at Fin, eyes wide with gratitude and a wild hope. "Then please help me! Jano do you know where we can find kingsfoil? Nobody even knows what it looks like not even the wise woman - she said the Elves would know it... And then I saw you both come into Edoras and you have to know please!"  She looked at Fin more now, teary eyes pleading for support. 


Jano was looking at him too, realising he was not telling them the whole story. Almost reluctantly she replied to Éowyn's tearful pleading.

"I know kingfoil... athelas. It grows in Gondor in places where the old kings of Numenor dwelt."  She paused, wondering if she ought to say more and raise Éowyn's hopes even more all in vain. "It''s properties are really more effective for maladies of the mind than those of the body and really it something that even the Elves do not benefit from particularly. It is said, when prepared properly, by a skilled Elven Healer or by a King of the line of Elendil... who are no more... then it is effective against maladies caused by evil servants of the Great Foe that drive mortals mad or... poison them... Elves too." She looked at Fin and he nodded gently, meaning for her to go on. "Fin and I are bound for Gondor - for Dol Amroth and then most likely to Minas Tirith, so perhaps we could find some for you and bring it back - it is as strong dried as fresh and..."

Suddenly Éowyn  was in her arms again hugging her hard and thanking her over and over.


"Oh thank you! Thank you! I will come with you!"  Éowyn was so excited she failed to see Jano's look of dismay.
"You must let me travel with you! Nobody else here will help me look for this so I have to come with you!" She bounced off the hay bale and looked at them, eyes gleaming with excitement and hope.

"I will be back very soon - I just need to let my brother know what I am about and safe with such companions and we can leave right away!" She hugged Fin too, bringing a look of shock then amusement to his face as she span away and ran off shouting "Won't be long!"


"I think perhaps this is also something that our friend Aulë intends to be part of our quest - it looks as though we will have company as far as Dol Amroth at least?"

"Maybe... I hope you are right for her sake - for I am sure finding kingsfoil is the least of her problems - it is a king that she needs as well as the athelas and I doubt very much that we will find her one of those..."  She shook her head doubtfully.

"Well we will see. At the very least we can help her find the plant and maybe one day she will find her king too."

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
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