Through all the changing scenes of life|
I don’t own these characters,
I borrowed them from Tolkien
– Character death
Aragorn had always known this
day would come, for all mortal creatures must die in the natural order
of things. Yet as the years passed, sometimes it had seemed that Roheryn
would always be there.
The King had ceased to ride
the old horse in public several years ago. At first he had been stabled
just outside the City, but Aragorn had been concerned that Roheryn would
be lonely as the horse was used to company. Éowyn had outstanding stables,
the finest outside Rohan with lush paddocks at Emyn Arnen. She had begged
the honour of caring for such a venerable horse in his old age.
So Roheryn had gone to live
with Faramir and Éowyn where he enjoyed a pleasant sheltered paddock
and stable. The King would always take him an apple when he visited
and be greeted with an eager neigh. He would caress the old stallion
and be nuzzled affectionately in return. Then Aragorn would speak softly
to him of the many adventures they had shared and they would take a
gentle trot together. He knew some might deem him foolish, but he always
felt there existed a deep understanding between them. On many occasions
when they had wandered the wilds together, Roheryn had been his sole
companion and Aragorn had often found himself confiding his hopes and
dreams to his faithful steed.
A message had arrived that
morning from Faramir and Éowyn telling the King that Roheryn was dying.
“You should go and make your
farewell,” Arwen urged him.
“I would like to, but what
of the trade delegation from Dale? They would be gravely insulted if
I failed to meet them on account of a horse!”
“I shall deal with them,”
Arwen said firmly. “Roheryn is no ordinary horse. I knew that when
I chose him for you. As for the merchants, I shall tell them that you
have urgent matters that you must debate with your Steward.”
“Could any man have a more
understanding lady? Thank you, vanimelda.” Aragorn embraced her. She
held him tightly for a moment then urged him to depart with all haste.
With a heavy heart Aragorn
made his way to the stables where he ordered Mithernil to be saddled.
Mithernil was a spirited,
though good-natured stallion and Aragorn was fond of the handsome grey,
but he was not Roheryn. He doubted any other could fill the special
place Roheryn held in his heart. Perhaps it was because the stallion
had been a gift from his beloved lady before they were wed, or because
they had been through so much together. Roheryn had staunchly accompanied
his master even along the dread Paths of the Dead and to the Black Gate
and never flinched from the task.
Aragorn urged Mithernil forward hoping fervently that he would
reach Roheryn in time. Fortunately it was a fine autumn day and there
were no delays along the road.
He reached Emyn Arnen about
noon. A servant hastened out to meet him. “Lord Faramir and Lady Éowyn
are out in the lower paddocks, my lord, “ he said without waiting
to be asked. “Shall I tend your mount, sire?”
Aragorn thanked him and handed
reins. He hurried the short distance to the fair meadows where Éowyn
kept her aging horses. The Steward and his Lady were both kneeling on
the grass beside Roheryn, who lay there.
Faramir got to his feet and
hastened to greet his lord. “Éowyn found him like this morning when
she rose early to see how a mare about to foal was faring,” he said.
“He had collapsed and was unable to get up.”
“I fear he is dying,” said
Éowyn, also getting to her feet. Her eyes were red rimmed and her greying
locks hung limply around her face. “I’ve seen this happen many times.
I don’t think he is in pain, but he will not last the day. I’m glad
you have got here in time.”
“Would you like to be alone
with Roheryn?” Faramir asked.
Aragorn nodded, unable to trust
himself to speak He sank down beside the great horse. Roheryn lifted
his head a few inches with a mighty effort and whinnied feebly. Aragorn
placed his hand on the mighty head. Éowyn judged correctly that the
horse was not in pain, but he was indeed dying. Aragorn could sense
that Roheryn’s life force was swiftly ebbing away. His time had come
and it would be cruel to try to delay his passing. The only healing
he could offer was to ease his old friend’s final hours.
He began to sing softly to
Roheryn, an old lullaby that his mother had often sung him to sleep
with. He had sung on his travels many times to remind him of home and
those he loved. He knew not how long he knelt there singing, his arm
draped around the dying horse. Roheryn nuzzled against him. The horse’s
breathing grew fainter and then he was gone.
“May you run forever free
beyond the circles of the world, my friend,” Aragorn whispered.
A great sense of desolation
swept over the King. It seemed that not only Roheryn had died, but part
of his past. He had ridden Roheryn on his last visit to his mother and
to the Pelennor where Halbarad had fallen. He had waved goodbye to Elrond
and to Frodo from astride the mighty horse. Now Roheryn was gone too.
Time had passed and was passing. Éowyn’s golden tresses had greyed
and even Faramir’s raven hair was streaked with silver. They were
all growing old; he was growing old. He was not afraid to receive Eru’s
gift but there was so much yet that he needed to achieve! He looked
again at Roheryn. Only a few days ago, the mighty horse had been full
of life, but now there was no breath in him. Tears streamed down the
He did not hear the footsteps
approaching, but suddenly there was another beside him and a comforting
arm around his shoulders.
“I am sorry,” he said.
“Why should you not weep
for a friend?” said Faramir. ”Roheryn was a prince amongst horses.”
Aragorn wept afresh.
“Éowyn suggested that we
bury Roheryn here,” said Faramir once his lord’s tears were spent.
“My Rangers have offered to dig his grave.”
“This is a fine resting place
for him,” said Aragorn. “Will Éowyn not mind her paddock being
dug up, though?”
“The grass will grow all
the richer with such a steed beneath it,” said Faramir.
“I should like to assist
them to dig the grave,” said Aragorn. “I have found that labour
can blunt the edge of grief.”
“Come and take refreshment,
first,” said Faramir. “You cannot have eaten or drunk for hours.”
Aragorn conceded to his Steward’s
plea. He had little appetite but he was thirsty and he knew he needed
to wash his face before facing the world again.
A red eyed Éowyn was waiting
for them and the table was laid with a simple but tasty meal. At first
Aragorn nibbled at the food to please his hostess, but as he ate the
tender fillet of lamb served with vegetables from Éowyn’s kitchen
garden, his appetite returned.
A group of Rangers were already
assembled with spades when Aragorn and Faramir went back outside. The
men set to work with a will.
“He was a fine horse,”
“I brought my little ones
to see him,” said another. ”I thought they should see the great
horse that bore our King in the battle to defeat the Dark Lord. My grandsire
fought that day and told me how Roheryn never faltered. We shall not
look on his like again!”
No we shall not, Aragorn
thought sadly, though he was a little comforted that Roheryn’s memory
would endure amongst his people. He thanked the men and rewarded them
well for their efforts.
“Thank you for your kindness,
my friends,” Aragorn said to Faramir and Éowyn. “It is time I went
home to my lady. This has been a day I have long dreaded.”
“Please bide with us a little
longer, and take a glass of wine and a honey cake with Faramir,” said
Éowyn. “You should not return home without refreshment.”
“Arwen will be expecting
me back,” said Aragorn.
“Please, my lord,” said
Faramir. “We would do ill to send you home until you have sampled
Éowyn’s damson wine.”
Out of curtsey to the Steward and his lady, Aragorn followed Faramir
back inside where a servant brought refreshments.
Éowyn excused herself. “I
need to tend my horses,” she said.
Aragorn and Faramir sipped
the wine and spoke of Roheryn and other horses they had known.
“There are times when I wish
I were of Rohir royal blood,” said Aragorn. “Then I could ride one
of the Mearas and we could grow old together.”
“Not even the Mearas have
the blessing of a Númenorean life span,” said Faramir.
“Is it such a blessing?”
Aragorn mused. “Sometimes it seems that time stands almost still for
us, while those we love, both man and beast, quickly age and die.”
Just then a servant entered
and said, “The Lady Éowyn requests your presence outside, my lords.”
“Come,” said Faramir. For
the first time that day, he sounded cheerful.
Aragorn followed his Steward
outside. The sun was sinking over the western horizon, bathing Emyn
Arnen in a golden glow. Éowyn appeared along the path, which led from
the higher paddocks, leading a foal and a grey mare.
“We intended him as a birthday
gift for you, but it seemed fitting that you should meet him today,”
Aragorn regarded the spindly-legged
foal curiously. He wondered if sorrow was addling his wits as the young
horse had a look of Roheryn about him. He had the same long neck and
powerful chest and his ears were the same shape.
“Meet Rana,” said Éowyn.
“Your Roheryn remained frisky into his old age and last year caught
me unawares by jumping over the fence into the paddock where my best
brood mare was grazing. How an old horse leapt so high, I’ll never
know, but Roheryn was no ordinary horse. Rana is the result.”
For the first time that day,
Aragorn smiled. Life was full of heartbreak, but there was also hope
and new life. Man and beast together were much like the seasons. Old
leaves must fall in autumn and new buds sprout forth in springtime.
A/n Mithernil = Grey Prince,