To The Halls of Mandos

Chapter 2

"I see. So Eoren has fallen."

King Theoden watched the girl before her, holding a sword, trying to look brave but failing to do so. There were dirt on her face, and streaks of moisture where her tears had fallen. She had just given him her report, as her father requested.

"So the Easterlings have allied themselves to Saruman..." Theoden was saying.

Il-ya looked up at the king, "The wizard of Isengard? He is behind all this?"

The King looked at her, "Yes. And much more, I believe. The wizard has allied himself with the dark forces of Sauron, and he, with his master, wishes to rule Middle Earth."

She exhaled, "He... he ordered my people dead... his words have caused my father's death..."

Theoden nodded, "Yes. He has." He looked to his left, watching what looked like an Elf and a Dwarf beside him, "Master Legolas, Master Gimli. What word from the men? Where is Lord Aragorn?"

The two looked at each other, and it was the elf, Legolas who spoke. "I am afraid... he has fallen, my lord..."

Theoden sighed and put his hand to his temple, "Dark times indeed." He looked back up at the girl before him, "Lady Il-ya, I am most thankful for your report, and most saddened by the loss of your father. Stay and rest, you have traveled far to complete the goal you were given."

She shook her head, "I am not tired." She raised the sword and said, "I am the daughter of Eoren, one of your best Eored. He raised me fight and bear arms as his heir." She swallowed back the tears, "I... wish to stay and fight. For his honor. For my people. And for our freedom."

A small smile lit the face of the king, and he stepped down from his throne, "Your bravery reminds me of someone. It is... very admirable." He laid a hand on her shoulder, "But... your father brought you here to be safe. And as he is one of my most faithful of men, I will honor his request for your safety and take you into my household."

Something sparked inside Il-ya, "I do not wish to be a maid. I am not raised to be so."

"And nor do I believe so." said the king, "But I assure you that I will find you a place in my castle, where you will not be bored or feel like you are caged. For now, follow your king's orders. Eat and rest, but most of all stay out of the battle field. I'd like to have your word that you will not fight, Lady Il-ya."

Il-ya glared at the king, "But... I have come all this way to tell you my father has asked me to protect you. I am his only heir, with no son to bear a sword in his place. I have been trained by him, I fought with him, and learned much wisdom from him. It was his wish that he could protect you, and I am here to honor his wish..."

"He also wished for your protection, Lady Il-ya." Theoden King said, "From all the times I have been with your father, he has often said to me that he loved you... a daughter with the heart and will of worth ten sons, and he was more inclined to protect you than his own king. I am no fool, Il-ya. If I am to send you to battle, it would be the same as to insult your father's pride and honor. Now..." Theoden looked down at her, not haughtily, but with power and stern, "I am ordering you, as your king, to rest and rush not to battle. If you really have your father's wisdom, you will not argue, but accept your king's order with pride and obedience."

Il-ya looked at the king, but soon tears fell down her eyes in defeat as she whispered, "As... as you wish, my lord."

Theoden finally sighed, and a small smile lifted his lips as he placed a hand on her face, and wiped the tears from her face. "Worry not, Lady Il-ya." He said tenderly, "Trust in your king, as your father trusted his. I will find a place worthy of a noble lady such as you. My men and I shall pursue the vengence you seek, and slaughter Saruman's army in Eoren's name and all of those who have fallen in your village. Have faith in the people of Rohan, child."

She nodded and bowed her head, as Theoden raised a hand, "Food and drink for Lady Il-ya, for she has traveled long and is weary."

A humble looking woman came forward, clad in a mantle of green and brown, with a bonnet on her head, and bowed at Theoden King. "Yes, my King." She answered, and she raised a hand to Il-ya to indicate that she go through the door near her. Il-ya looked back at Theoden, who merely nodded, and she sighed in defeat. She walked towards the servant, and soon the woman followed her through the door. As she entered, she grit her teeth, strengthening her resolve to not be like the woman behind her.

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