Among The Rohirrim by Gryffinjack - Marigold's Tale Challenge 37
Feb. 4th, 2007
10:12 am - Among The Rohirrim by Gryffinjack
On the way to the Muster at Dunharrow, Merry finds he is not the only one who can't sleep...
CHALLENGE 37 – AMONG THE ROHIRRIM
Theme: write a story that involves any character or characters learning about a different culture that begins with an assigned starter sentence.
Starter sentence: ____ opened his eyes with difficulty, his head spinning.
Thanks to Dreamflower for betaing this vignette and for her kind words.
Additional beta by Marigold and Llinos.
Dedicated to Barbaro, who lost his courageous race earlier this week, but gained many friends along the way.
Merry opened his eyes with difficulty, his head spinning. After Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli had departed with the Rangers toward the Dike yesterday, Merry had ridden down the Coomb many long hours beside Théoden on their steady march through long dales and across many streams toward Harrowdale. It seemed like mere minutes had passed instead of hours since Merry had gone to his rest last night. He knew he needed more sleep, but he was too unsettled. He longed to see Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf and Sam again. And he tried *not* to think about Pippin or Frodo, for fear that the ache would be too great.
Instead, Merry allowed his eyes to adjust to the dim grey light before dawn. He exhaled softly, watching as the mist from his breath disappeared into the chill air. He had become used to their small Fellowship and had yet to accustom himself to the quiet noises of the crowded war host. All around him, he heard the coughs of the Men in their sleep and the soft whinnying of their horses.
Knowing that all further attempts at sleep this night would prove futile, Merry flung his grey cloak about his shoulders as he left his bedroll and went to check on his shaggy grey pony, Stybba.
“There you are, lad,” he said, stroking the white blaze on Stybba’s forehead. “It looks like we are the smallest in this company.”
Stybba nickered and shook his head to express his quiet assent. It was reassuring to have someone who was relatively his own size to talk to again.
“Well, we may be the smallest, but we will stand as tall as any of them, no matter what may come in this strange land. I am troubled by Aragorn’s gloomy words when we parted.” Merry leant against Stybba’s shoulder, glad of his warmth. “What I would not give for Frodo’s guidance or Pippin’s unquenchable cheer just now.”
Merry continued his discussion with Stybba as the dark of night gradually thinned. The Men would be moving soon, he supposed, and so he turned to go back and see if he could be of any service to Théoden. However, he had barely left Stybba’s side when he saw his king leaning against his own great white mount, Snowmane.
“My lord,” Merry said as he approached his king. “I did not know you had risen.”
Théoden smiled kindly at him. “Do not apologise, Master Meriadoc. The darkness before us grows, though day approaches. I found my sleep restless and thought to look upon Snowmane. We Rohirrim find our horses to be of great comfort to us in times of trouble. Did you know that in Rohan, it is the horse that chooses his rider, not the other way around? It is important for horse and rider to have a strong bond between them.”
Merry listened intently to every word Théoden spoke, absently reaching out and gently petting Snowmane. He was still surprised that it was as easy to speak with his new king as it was to his own father.
“In Buckland, that is, where I come from, we are equally as attached to our ponies, though I do not suppose any are as fine as Stybba. We value our ponies as our friends.”
Théoden nodded. “It does not take the light of day to see that, Master Meriadoc. You may have been born a Hobbit, but you were also born to become one of the Rohirrim. Apparently, there is more in common between our two races than some of our words.”
Merry’s eyes widened.
“I have noticed your reaction to some of our speech. It is as if some of it is distantly familiar to you.”
“Yes, my lord. It has been some measure of comfort on this journey towards Harrowdale to hear words not foreign to my tongue,” said Merry.
“Come,” said Théoden, wrapping an arm around Merry in a manner that reminded Merry of his own father. “You shall ride by my side today and tell me more of your land, where ponies are valued as much as they are here in Rohan.”
Merry grinned up at Théoden.
“I would like that very much, my lord.”