By Maltriel

June 9 - Morning

"Did you know, Héowa," exclaims a middle-aged matron, her blue eyes wide as they scan those nearest to them in the twilight-lit camp for any suspected eavesdroppers, "that the rumors are true?"

The other woman looks up from the stain on the tunic which she tries desperately to remove with her wooden bat. "Oh?" she pauses. "They are!"

"Aye, my cousin Earla told me so. She was serving food and drink to Lord Bearn and all those gathered in his pavilion. She saw her with her own eyes, plain as day." Her blue eyes open wider, emphasizing this point.

"The Lady Eowyn?"gasps Héowa, the wet tunic temporarily forgotten as it lies limply upon the laundry-board.

The other woman nods, then bends down to put more clothing in a barrel filled with warm, soapy water. "Mmm hmm," she mumbles.

"Then it IS true, the tales we've heard about her riding with the entourage leaving Edoras. I wonder where she's been? She disappeared back in March," her eyes widen and her voice lowers, "from this very place!" Her eyes shift back and forth, and she whispers, "I heard she disguised herself as a rider and sneaked off to Pelennor. Oh, Eadgytha, do tell me more!"

Eadgytha's hands grip the side of the wooden barrel and she leans forward, speaking in a whisper, "Rumor has it she was," she pauses, relishing every detail of the dark tale, "captured by the," her blue eyes widen even more, "enemy."

"Oh!" exclaims Héowa.

Eadgytha nods gravely. "Aye, twas what i heard. They took her back to that evil land.... to the very Dark Tower itself!"

Héowa's hand rushes to her face. "But no one ever comes back from that place alive!"

"Oh, she's definitely alive," says Eadgytha, nodding her head slightly, recalling some of the rumors she had heard about Eowyn's spit-fire hostility towards her own people. "But who knows what torments she was forced to endure?" She looks around again to see if anyone might be listening in, then says in a barely audible whisper, "I hear they drove her mad, and now she thinks she's one of them! I heard she even threw a drinking goblet at Lord Bearn and then fled from his pavilion when he spoke ill of the lord of that foul dwimmerlaik!"

Héowa's face blanches. "Oh, Valar save us!"

"Well," says Eadgytha matter-of-factly as she stands back up, "if you ask me, and, oh, i don't mean any harm or ill at all," a grave and sincere expression comes to her face and she waves her finger about in the air, "you know i love the Lady Eowyn and think the world of her.. Why, everyone loved her, a great and noble lady she was...." Héowa waits patiently for Eadgytha to continue. "But as i was saying, if you ask me, the Lady never should sneaked off to fight. It was foolhardy and proved to be folly. A woman has no place upon a battlefield!" A grave look is on Eadgytha's face and she stands there with one hand upon her hip.

"Mmmm hmmm," vigorously nods Héowa, and she resumes trying to beat the stain from the tunic. Eadgytha dumps more clothing into the barrel, and gently stirs the soapy water. Both women are quiet for a moment, but soon the two laundresses are discussing matters other than the Lady Eowyn. A calico cat leisurely meanders by the pair, but a stray splash of water from Eadgytha's barrel lands near it, and the cat scurries away into the camp.

"Pippin's Note"
By Eowyn
June 13, early morning

Hathawyn was cleaning in one of the large eating pavilions - scrubbing overlooked dirty spots upon tables, picking up items that people left behind, and removing refuse from the grass. There was no need to worry about spilled food upon the ground, for the hungry dogs had taken care of anything that was dropped (either by accident or on purpose). Indeed, they proved themselves to be "man's best friend," or at least good friends to the kitchen-help.
Near one of the walls of the tent, she found a folded up piece of paper. She was about to take it to one of the cooking fires, but changed her mind for it looked like a note of some sort. Curious, she unfolded the piece of paper and began to read, being fairly literate. Her hazel eyes widened and she gasped at what she read... the letter was meant for her.

Dear Hathawyn,
I did not know you for long but your memory is precious to me, as I hope mine will be to you. Thank you for everything. May you survive these times to live a long and happy life. Where I go I cannot tell you, but I am wearing your hair ribbon on my arm. Goodbye, my dear maiden of the golden ale. --Peregrin Took

Her heart sank, and she felt as though the ground had disappeared from beneath her feet. Pippin! Where was he going? He said he was wearing her hair ribbon on his arm... Knights always carried scarves given to them by fair ladies with them when they went to a joust. But there were no jousts.... only war. Had Pippin really sneaked off to go fight, to try to do brave deeds like his friend Merry? She must find out if it was true! ....but, really, she already knew that it was.
Folding the letter back up, Hathawyn stuffed it in the purse attached to her belt, and ran out of the pavilion. When startled workers asked her where she was going, she called back with the vague excuse of some "urgent business" to which she had to attend.
She sped to Eowyn's pavilion, and Pippin's small tent beside it. She hesitated. What should she do? If Pippin was still there, she did not want to barge in on him and catch him unawares. But, certainly, if Pippin had run away, or was in the process of running away, certainly the Lady Eowyn would know. If Pippin was to fight, doubtless Lady Eowyn would be right there with him, just as she was with Merry. And, knowing the Lady Eowyn, the idea to sneak off to fight was hers to begin with.
She moved to Eowyn's tent flap and called softly, "Lady Eowyn? Are you awake?" Only silence greeted her. She asked again, louder this time, but still she got no response. That did not bode well. What if the shadow upon her had come back? She had been in a dark and gloomy mood ever since she was healed.
Hathawyn nervously entered the tent. The interior was decorated with fine tapestries and skins, and the night-candle, still lit, had burnt very low. No one slept in Eowyn's bed, and her fine white dress was carelessly draped over the side. Inspecting the tent for any notes that may have been left behind, Hathawyn looked under the bed and found a large mass of cut golden hair. Picking it up in shaking hands, Hathawyn wondered why any woman would have done this to herself, but many were the rumors that Eowyn had gone mad from her thraldom to the great Enemy.
And suddenly she realized what had happened. Both Eowyn and Pippin had sneaked away sometime after the funeral feast the night before, and had gone to fight with the eoreds in the valley. There might be a possibility that they had gone off to find the Riders, but not likely. Only someone who was completely mad would go through the northern part of the valley, which was infested by foul orcs.
No longer worrying about modesty, for in her heart she knew what she would find, she ran to Pippin's tent. She yelled out Pippin's name before entering, but there was no answer. Hathawyn's fears and assumptions proved to be correct: the tent was empty. Both Pippin and the Lady Eowyn were gone. Eowyn left Dunharrow and gone off as a soldier once again and had taken Pippin with her, like she had done back in March with Merry.
And now what should she do? Should she tell Lord Wulfhelm of the matter, or wait for the absences of Pippin and Eowyn to be discovered in time? Pippin had told her that he longed to fight in the war, to have some part other than wait around helpless and despairing in Dunharrow. Two days before, he had told her of his desire to prove himself in battle, and his suspicion that the members of the Fellowship had always thought that he was a useless burden who always got in the way.
The note was meant just for her, and she had no idea when Pippin and Eowyn had left Dunharrow, or where they might be now. But it was her duty to tell someone about this. Someone should know. And Pippin had been vague and had not asked her not to tell anyone about his secret flight. Why was it ALWAYS her doom in life to bring evil news? She decided to tell her grandfather, one of the healers, about the matter, and ask his advice.
As she sped to the healers' pavilion, her thoughts were wild and frantic. That dear little hobytla! Into what horrible fate were he and Eowyn traveling? Would Rohan ever see its White Lady again, and would Hathawyn ever see Pippin? She began to etch her memories of Pippin deeper into her mind, so that she would remember him, should he not return from his perilous journey. She pictured Pippin crushed under the Black Captain's mace, Pippin hewed to death by orcs, Pippin dying a long, slow death in bitter agony, and a thousand other horrible dooms befalling jolly little Pippin.
And Eowyn! Eowyn! Rohan had lost its White Lady once, and now it appeared that she was gone again. And what would happen to her this time? Would she be captured again and taken to the Dark Tower to suffer even more torment than she had before? Poor Eowyn! Poor Pippin!
Hathawyn shuddered with dread at these dire thoughts that plagued her mind, and prayed that the luck of these two brave (or fey and foolhardy) soldiers would prove better this time, into whatever evil their paths now took them.

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