Strange Bedfellows
By Angmar and Eowyn

The Return of Neithan
The Hornburg
Evening of June 16, 3019

"Luinwen!" I called out to her and wondered whether she would be able to hear me above the moaning of the wounded who lay upon the straw in the corridor. "She is frightened," I thought, "and will not come back to me." I struggled to pull myself into a sitting position, but the pain in my wounded leg brought me short. I rested against the stone walls and tried to regain my breath. I looked around at my surroundings. The man to my right had been wounded in the stomach near the liver. A pike had pierced him and his wound was mortal. I knew he had but a short time to live. He struggled and then lay groaning in his death agonies.

Since I thought he might already be dead, I asked him, "Her name is Luinwen. Have you seen her, soldier?

Only his the glazing eyes of the dead greeted me. I looked upon the straw where he lay and saw that his blood had saturated it. He was a large man, and so the blood was in great quantity. The smell must have been great to those who were not accustomed to it, but not to me. I have seen many men die and know the smell of death.

I thought he must have been summoned quickly to the dark halls of Mandos, or wherever the dead go. How would I know? The sages of old said this. Perhaps they were right and perhaps they were wrong. I am only a man.

On my left lay the body of a Rider of Rohan, his pallid face illuminated by the glow of the torches hanging in their sconces upon the walls. He was a quiet fellow, except every now and then, an occasional moan escaped his lips. "Such a slight form!" I thought. "He must be little more of a boy. Not even a hint of a beard upon his face."

I had tarried too long in my attempts to find Luinwen. I tried to rise again to my feet, but my weakness brought me crashing to the floor again. This time my head hit against the stone wall, and this added to the dizziness which already prevailed against me and caused my world to go dark for a while.

I woke up with the words - "Luinwen, Luinwen, come back to me! Let me hold your hand and kiss you once again. Guide me through the darkness, oh lady of my dreams! Come unto me!" - upon my lips. I could not understand where she was. It was not like her to stray far away from me.

When I finally came to myself, I decided that surely someone must be able to tell me where she was. Though they said she was dead, I could see her clearly! She was often by my side, her hand on my arm, her gentle, kind eyes looking into mine. She had gone with me into battle many times, fighting at my side, she with the shield and blade unseen. My Luinwen! My goddess! My sword-lady!

In all honesty, I could not call her a maid, for she had lain with my friend Hallas, and we, betrothed! Not that she had confessed to me. He had boasted to me, and that brought us to blows many times, and to swords, before our Captain Vorondil had forced us apart with the flat of his sword against our backs and heads.

I killed him.

It was an accident. I did not mean to do this deed, but upon that day of June 20, 3018, all my senses left me. A great cloud, overpowering in its intensity, a precognition of death, descended over us, the defenders of Osgiliath. I was an archer just across the bridge, wielding a short bow, which has great powers at close range. I had an arrow nocked and ready, but when the cloud fell, my arrow flew amiss into the back of Hallas.

My Captain Vorondil commanded me to halt, for they could see I was ready to take flight. I refused him, and he and one other, Arorod, challenged me. I slew them both in my mad terror, and fled with my sword, which I named Marad, "Doom."

My name? That which I call myself is not my own, not the one my parents gave me, not the one of my birth. I took this name when I became a wanderer, deemed an outlaw by the Steward of Gondor. Not that I chose to stand judgment, for I already knew the verdict. It is death to kill another soldier.

My name now is Neithan, which means "The Wronged." Indeed, I felt I was maltreated, but there would be no justice for me, I thought. Before any others could lay hands on me, I was gone and none could catch me, for terror put wings to my feet.

The Rider who lay insensible beside me held little interest for me. Since he could not or would not speak, I was unable to ask him if he had seen Luinwen or not. My strength was sapped with my attempts to regain my feet, so I lay back in the straw.


The attendants in the makeshift hospital area looked at each other and said softly, "He is the Gondorian, you know, and those that know him say that he has been totally mad for a long time. He raves to himself like this all the time. A pathetic man, really. Humor him as best you can. He was once a valiant warrior."

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