the pearl

Song Of The Dispossessed

They are banished.

The words fester in his belly, coiling and striking viciously like a snake.

They are banished.

The horses' hooves drum out the phrase, the trail of clouds in the red sky above is the weak scrawl of his uncle and king's signature on the order, and it repeats most of all in the steady thrum of his blood — the blood of kings, and warriors, and riders, and men — but now it is only the blood of the outcast.

They have been banished.

And there is no return.


They ride North, where it is said that any strong man can find service. They will go, and they will serve men who do not trust them, fight in battles they do not wish to win, seek vain comfort in the arms of women who are not their wives, and, finally, die, only to be buried far from home.

The last weighs upon all of them, but on Éomer most of all. To be buried away from his homeland, to never have the white flower of simbelmynë grow upon his grave...this is truly what lingers, what refuses to depart.

He is a man without a king, without a name, and without a home. And when he dies, he will be forgotten. He will leave no heirs. His helmet will not be placed in the Golden Hall of Meduseld. The women will not sing at his grave. And he will be lost in the Fields of the Dead, unable to ever reach the Hall of his Forefathers.

He will never see his sister again.

And that aches even more.


They have travelled only two days before one of the men breaks — the youngest of them, barely older than a stable boy. When the sun has barely edged over the mountains, the men began to break up the night's camps, but he sat there, staring at the smouldering embers of the fire. His compatriots, other men from his village, attempted to rile him, but to no avail. They quickly turned to Éomer, faces drawn and sallow as they recount what has happened.

Éomer joins the youth at the fire, staring into the remains. "We're breaking camp," he says, his voice low. "Your friends wish to know if you are joining us."

The man — child — man looks up at him for a second, then turns back to the fire. "What would be the point?" he asks, his voice exhausted by the ride and by the loss. "What could I have to look forward to?"

Éomer frowns. "What did you leave behind?"

The man simply scoffs and continues looking at the fire.

Éomer looks at the man, studying him for a few seconds. The man wore his armour well for one so young, and while it was well-maintained, it looked old, as if it were the armour of his father or his grandfather before him. He holds a thin cord in his hands, twisting it around his fingers over and over, stroking it distractedly.

Éomer recognizes it, belatedly, as a braid, the kind that would trim a dress, the simple cotton threads dyed deep red. The kind of braid a woman of Rohan would wear upon her best dress. He looks at the braid and, suddenly, understands. "Your wife..." he says, answering his own question.

The man stiffens, biting his lower lip, then nods, resignedly. "She..." His voice trails off, and he breathes shallowly for a few seconds. "She is with our first babe..." He twists the braid around his fingers tightly, watching them turn purple with trapped blood. "She was close...for all that I know, she has already given birth." He releases the braid. "I may have a son, and I shall never see him."

Éomer reaches over, his gloved hand covering the other man's chilled bare hand. "Your son," he said, his voice low and pitched only for him. "Your son shall grow strong and brave and knowing that his father was true to Rohan. For no matter how we live, know that this much is true."

The man nods, tears pricking his eyes, and Éomer is struck, again, by the youth of him. He stares back down into the remnants of the fire, and, suddenly, reaches for his water skin. He douses the campfire, then stands, his face expressionless. "I thank you, sir," he says. "And I shall fulfil my obligation."


They ride throughout the day and through most of the night, stopping only for water and to rest the horses. When they camp, it is only to lay down pallets — no elaborately decorated tents and throws of fine furs as many of them remember from campaigns of old.

Éomer is crouched in front of his campfire, stirring the flames with a stick, when the youth comes to him. He nods at him, and the man crouches next to him.

They sit there, in companiable silence, as many of the other men around them do, when, suddenly, impulsively, like the sudden snapping of a braided red cord, the man leans over, cups Éomer's chin, and kisses him.

It is without premonition or warning and Éomer is unable to react immediately, not until the man has already moved back, and is quickly muttering a number of apologies, unable to look at him.

Éomer has spent many long nights on the cold ground, seeking comfort and reassurance before a battle. He has learned the ways of war and the ways of men, and when he reaches over to wrap an arm around the man, pulling him close. His lips meet the other man's lips, his hands slide against the other man's body, and they slowly fall down onto Éomer's pallet, stroking and slipping and pleasuring each other in the night.


In the morning, they awaken together, and the young man smiles as they both rise and prepare their horses. They do not speak, except to share the most basic information, but when they are on their horses and preparing to ride, the man turns to Éomer.

"Again, I must thank you," he says, softly. "I thank you for last night."

Éomer shakes his head, looking at the man. "No," he says gruffly. "It was a mutual comfort. And in times such as these, any comfort is a blessed relief." He clicks his tongue, lifts the reins, and guides his horse forward.

This Lord Of The Rings story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at