Warrior's Comfort

by Sasjah Miller

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"Long has Boromir, son of Denethor been gone seeking an answer, and the horse we lent him came back riderless.' Eomer to Aragorn"

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, book 3.

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Prologue

Eomer's first memory was of horses, heads towering high above him, their hooves large and solid while his father stood solemnly watching the herd being round up, the twenty finest horses being separated from the rest. He held Eomer's hand reassuringly, but Eomer was not afraid for he knew these horses and there was nothing to fear.

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He was eight years old when his father took him along with a band of horsemen to Minas Tirith, to bring their annual tribute of twenty swift horses to Denethor. He remembered feeling hemmed in, stressed and tired, and with a scared longing in his belly for the wide windswept plains of his home. He sought comfort in the nearness of Mara, the mare that he'd been assigned to take care of since she'd been weaned. He'd known all along that he would have to give her to the Men of Gondor in the end, but he didn't want to lose her just yet. He didn't want to let her fall into some brute's hands who would tear up her delicate mouth, put the spurs to her without warning, ride her so hard she'd die from exhaustion. He let his head rest against her warm, soft side as a strong hand came to rest on his shoulder.

"What's her name, boy?"

He looked up and around, quickly swallowing his unbecoming tears and saw a young man, looking forbidding in his suit of armor, his enormous broadsword hanging from his side, but the man smiled and Eomer felt that he could trust this man.

"Her name is Mara, good sir."

The man stepped closer and caressed the mare's neck, instinctively finding the place where she liked to be crawed and the mare relaxed, bending her head forward, snorting softly.

"And do you have a name too, boy?"

"Eomer, son of Eomund, sir."

The man smiled again, and rummaged in his pockets, finding a lump of sugar and fed it to the horse who nibbled at it contentedly.

"She's a beautiful horse. You must be sad to see her go"

Eomer swallowed, unwanted tears welling up inside him.

"I raised her from birth, I know what she likes, how she will do all she can for you if you treat her right. She's the best horse there ever was!"

The man was laughing now, but affectionately, and he ruffled Eomer's hair with his free hand, the other one still stroking Mara's neck.

"I will make you a bargain, young Eomer, son of Eomund. I am in need of a horse, since my other one is old and tired. If I told you I would have her, would you consider telling me all you know about her, so I can treat her the way she should be treated?"

Eomer was silent, and then came to a decision. Mara was going to go away anyway, and this man seemed like a man who would at least try to treat his horse right.

"Yes, I will, good sir."

"Very well, come then. Take Mara with you to the stables and tell me all there is to know about her."

The man turned round and walked away, never looking back to see if Eomer and the horse would follow. But they did.

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The next year Eomer kept looking for the man when they were taking the horses to Minas Tirith on their annual trip, but he did not see him. He asked around and he learned that the man's name was Boromir, the Steward's eldest son and that he had been stationed in Minas Ithil and hardly ever came home. Eomer raised more horses, and always volunteered for the trip to Minas Tirith. But he did not meet with Boromir again.

The End

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