Chapter 6 : Edoras
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A few days after her arrival, Arlena found herself staring at a map with the heir to Rohan.
"So this is Rohan?" Arlena asked, pointing to a spot on the map of Middle Earth.
"Yes," Théodred said. He continued on explaining about the lands of Middle Earth until he noticed the saddened expression on her face.
"What is troubling you, Arlena? Am I boring you?" he teased lightly.
She looked at him and shook her head, giving him a small smile. "No, of course not. I'm just homesick, that's all. I miss my family, more specifically my older sister and twin brother."
He gave her a sad smile before squeezing her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.
"Come, we can continue this geography lesson later. Would you like to go riding?" he asked her.
Arlena smiled brightly. "That would be lovely. Can I change first?"
"Yes, of course. I'll ask Éowyn if she'd like to come along as well," he told her before they parted their ways.
"What odd clothes for a woman to be wearing," she heard Éomer say from behind her. She looked down at the plain beige tunic and brown trousers.
"Like my boots? I transfigured them to be like yours," she said cheekily, pointing her boot towards him.
He looked down at her boots and then at his. They were in fact quite similar to the ones he was currently wearing. Éomer just arched his eyebrow at her and shook his head in amusement.
"You do know how to ride, right?" Théodred said, grabbing his saddle to put on his horse.
"Yes, I do. I refuse to ride side-saddle though," She said, shrugging him off.
"Is Éowyn coming?" she then asked, leading her horse out of its stall.
"No, she told me she has some unfinished work to be done," Théodred said, sounding slightly confused.
Arlena looked away from both men and fought her urge to smile. Éowyn had been secretly teaching her how to use a sword for the past week and a half. Éowyn had promised her that she would get her own sword soon enough.
"Very well, let's go then shall we?" she said, mounting her horse.
They had been riding for an hour when Arlena felt a change in the air. Something wasn't right.
"Something's not right," she said, voicing her thoughts. She noticed Éomer was looking around them suspiciously.
"We're being followed," Éomer finally said.
A knot of sheer dread formed in the pit of her stomach. She didn't want to find out what was following them.
"Wargs! Arlena ride back now!" Théodred yelled before pulling out his sword.
"That's an order! Now go!"
She turned to look at Éomer and found him ready to fight as well. In the distance, she saw four massive beasts approaching them fast.
She didn't want to admit it to herself, but she was frightened. These creatures were massive in size and she now understood why Théodred and Éomer dreaded them so much.
As she was making her escape, a fifth one crossed her path. Her horse reared in surprise, and she was thrown off.
"Stupefy!" she screamed, stunning the Warg. She didn't know how long it would stay unconscious.
Turning to look, she saw Éomer and Théodred fending off the rest of the Wargs. Without a second thought, she turned on the spot and apparated to them.
"Théodred, kill it!" she screamed after she stunned another one. Théodred quickly stabbed the foul beast.
There was a moment of sheer quiet after all the Wargs had been taken care of.
"We must get back. It's no longer safe," Éomer said, breaking the eerie silence.
"May I ride with you? My horse ran off," Arlena said quietly.
Éomer nodded, helping her get on. Arlena wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned her head against his back. Closing her eyes, she let out a shaky breath. She was still shaking from the adrenaline rush.
Opening her eyes, she saw Théodred staring at her.
"I'm fine, Théodred. It's just been awhile since I had to defend myself," she said calmly. She saw Théodred nod at her, and closed her eyes again.
She didn't fail to notice Éomer's hand resting atop of hers the entire ride back.
"Oh, it's absolutely beautiful, Éowyn!" Arlena gasped in surprise as she took in the sword before her.
It was rather simple in design, but at the hilt of the sword was a beautiful geometric design consisting of squares and an engraving that she couldn't decipher.
"It means 'never falter'. I believe it is a fitting saying," Éowyn said, smiling at the younger girl.
Arlena smiled and gave her a hug.
"Never falter, Éowyn dear. We must be strong in times such as these," she said.
Sleep evaded her. Tossing and turning, she huffed in frustration when she realized sleep was not going to come. It was maybe a half hour before dawn, but she decided to get ready for the new day regardless.
After simply braiding her hair, she walked out of her room and decided to see if anyone was in the main hall.
Her steps were quiet as she walked along towards the main hall, her thoughts consuming her focus.
When she finally reached her destination, it was bizarre to see it so empty. Granted, according to Éowyn, the hall was a lot less crowded as of late, but it was never fully empty like it was now.
Sighing, she sat down on one of the benches and took in her surroundings. Nothing about this room seemed cheerful to her. Théodred told her it once was a happy place, but ever since the King's mind was slowly being poisoned it became dark and creepy.
Her thoughts drifted towards her family and a wave of homesickness crashed over her. How would her family react when they found out where she was? Surely they would have noticed her being gone. Hopefully they didn't fear for her too much. She was safe for the time being and that's all that mattered to her.
Suddenly she felt like she was being watched. Looking around, she found the culprit.
"Your eyes watch my every movement, Éomer," she said quietly.
Éomer emerged from the shadows, not in the least embarrassed that she caught him watching her. He wouldn't deny her statement since it was true. He found her interesting, to say the least.
"Why are you not sleeping like everyone else?" he asked, approaching her.
"I was going to ask the same thing about yourself," she smirked, taking in his simple green tunic. In her opinion, the color suited him very well.
When he remained silent, she sighed before standing up.
"I couldn't sleep," she stated simply.
"I couldn't sleep either. I thought a walk would help, but it has only made me even more restless," Éomer finally admitted.
Arlena smiled sadly at him, understanding the feeling. Only Merlin knows how many times she tried taking a walk to make herself sleepy during her school years. It never worked, but she kept doing it anyways.
"Trust me, Éomer. It never helps," she told him.
"It would have been nice to have known that before I had decided to take a walk," he smirked.
"Well, I'm sorry it has never come up in conversation. If you ever need cures for insomnia, I have plenty you can choose from. However, I cannot guarantee that they will work," she joked.
He smiled back at her, "Thank you. I am willing to do anything to cure my insomnia."
"Anything?" she teased.
"Within reason, of course," he clarified.
She shook her head, smiling at him. She found it rather easy to tease him. Although Théodred was friendly enough, she could never bring herself to tease him. She vaguely wondered why, but brushed that thought aside.
"Well, I think I'll try to get some sleep," Arlena said, bending the truth. She knew she wouldn't sleep, but decided she should go back to her room.
"Very well. I hope you sleep well," Éomer said.
"Try to get some sleep as well, alright?" Arlena said.
Éomer nodded in response. Walking past him, he quickly caught her hand. Confused, she turned around and looked at him.
"Arlena, if you ever need to talk about anything, don't hesitate," Éomer said.
She stared at him in confusion, until the proverbial light bulb turned on above her head. He was referring to the incident with the Wargs.
"Thank you, Éomer. That means a lot to me," she said, squeezing his hand.
Éomer watched her walk away and wondered what the hell he was doing. He couldn't be developing feelings for the witch, it just couldn't happen. Not when his own cousin was interested in her.
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