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Daughter of Rohan
Nessa
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Chapter One- The Company on Horses

The morning sun had already burned away all that was left of the evening mist. A few last ghostly wisps lingered here and there like lost spirits. Laurelin stood on the field away to the east of the house of Rohan, drinking in the soft cool rays of the morning sun, and letting the delicate western breeze wash over her. Laurelin turned and looked back to the west where the touch of dawn had not obscured the night-stained horizon. She shifted her weight from foot to foot and peered into the distance looking for any sign of a company on horseback. She knew her mother would have a fit if she saw her standing out in the open, barefooted, her dark hair flying wild behind her head, with her horse, Linad, beside her. They did look a pair though, both as untamed and feral as summer colts put out to pasture. Laurelin peered out again. Nothing could be seen for miles, at least in her eyes. She knew if Legolas was here he could probably see all the way to Minas Tirith. But Legolas and Gimli were not there and neither was her father, Faramir. They were off in Minas Tirith, seeing to some mysterious unknown business, and had been away for some months. Laurelin's mother had thought that their time of absence would be a fine time to visit Rohan, the place of her birth and home of her brother King Eomer. The company of Faramir had sent word earlier that week that they would be back that morning. Out of pure exasperation and impatience, Laurelin let out an infuriated groan and leapt back onto her horse. Linad replied softly with a comforting whiney and looked back at Laurelin. Laurelin smiled at her friend and set the horse into a gallop back to the House. Laurelin was the eldest daughter of Faramir, the Steward of Gondor, and Lady Eowyn, with a reputation for an abominable and untamed nature. She had been named Laurelin for the younger of the Two Trees of the Valinor. It had been Queen Arwen's idea to name her so, for when she was born, Laurelin's hair had been as golden as the sun. Yet, as most Children, the baby blonde curl had fallen out by the time Laurelin was two years of age and had changed to almost a black shade. Now she looked nothing like her namesake, except for the fact of her height. People of Rohan had always been known for being very tall and lanky. Laurelin's own mother was almost as tall as her father, but Laurelin had already passed her father by long ago. She was one of the tallest young women in Rohan, even though she being only sixteen years of age.

As Laurelin rode back, up to the white hall, She could almost already hear the earful her mother would give her for sneaking out before dawn and stealing three biscuits from the kitchen for an early breakfast without permission. She stopped at the stables and set Linad up in a stall till her next ride, and silently snuck into the house. The now full sun poured it's golden light in through the windows to the east. She crept in through the halls of her fathers trying to seem as inconspicuous as a shadow.

"Now where have you been gallivanting off to this morning, my dear niece," Said a voice.

Laurelin turned and to her relief saw her uncle's form in the sunlight. "Looking for Father, Legolas and Gimli. They said they would be riding home this morn," Said Laurelin with a half grin.

Her uncle, King Eomer, had fought along side her father in the War of the Ring at least twenty years before. Only he, out of her entire family, towered above Laurelin. "Well, I will have a messenger come and fetch you when your father arrives. Now I believe that you should get back to your quarters for the time being to ready yourself for their arrival, for I hear that your father brings a few guests with him." He replied walking up to her. "Who?"

"The King Elessar and Queen Arwen," He said with a smile.

Laurelin looked at him in shock. She had not seen the great king and queen since she was very young, at least eight years before. Not meaning to be rude but just caught up in the moment, She sped off without a word for her chambers to ready herself for the king and queen.

She was usually not the type of young girl who enjoyed dressing up in finery and setting a mountain of hair upon her head, but Laurelin could not help but want to do so right then. Her room was sent into an unorganized frenzy, with her maids looking about frantically for this dress or this comb that was needed, but all the pandemonium was worth the effort by the time a messenger was sent, for Laurelin now looked more like a Princess of Rohan than the wild young horse girl she had been earlier that morning. Her dark hair still lay about her shoulders but braids were scattered here and there about it. Her mantel was white for the horses of Rohan, and about her neck was an oval emblem with a horse's tail, made for her by Gimli.

Laurelin met her mother by the door of the grand hall. She and her mother were as different as the sun and moon both in manner and appearance, yet they both held a fair, grave look in their eyes according to Faramir.

They walked side by side down the steps toward the company who had just arrived. Sure enough, just as King Eomer had said, there along with Faramir stood the King Elessar and his wife Arwen. Unable to hold back her joy at seeing her father, Laurelin ran toward her father and held him in a long awaited embrace.

"Oh my Daughter," He said with a laugh, "It seems that you have grown taller much to my distress."

Laurelin just laughed along with him. Her mother followed her and sent the three of them in a gigantic hug. Legolas and Gimli laughed beside them. Laurelin separated herself from her mother and father and hugged Legolas and Gimli as well. Gimli's short stock body only reached up to her elbows, so she had to kneel down to hug the dwarf. Legolas stood eye to eye with her. Then, after the joyful reunion had ended, Laurelin turned her attention to the King and Queen.

King Elessar was very tall, with a noble brow, wrinkled with years of care and his almost always-smiling mouth was wide with joy. His salt and pepper hair was still thick with forgotten youth. His wife, Queen Arwen, though was very beautiful. Laurelin wished she could look almost as fair as the Elven queen someday but she knew that that could not be true. The Queen's hair was raven black and her eyes were a soft gray like that of the sky after a spring rain. Yet it seemed that mortal life had taken it's toll upon the queen for white lightly touched the roots of her hair.

"Eowyn, Laurelin, how wonderful to see you both again," She said with a grand smile, "Laurelin you have grown so since I last saw you, I pray you are in good health?"

Laurelin stood speechless for a second, not knowing how to answer, but her father saved her.

"I believe it shall rain soon by the looks of the sky, I think it would be wise to resign to the great hall where, my wife tells me, there is a great banquet waiting for us." Said her father.

And so the company ascended the great stairs with King Eomer and Laurelin's aunt Queen Lothiriel at the head, than the King Elessar and Queen Arwen, than Laurelin's Father and Mother, and last Legolas, Gimli and Laurelin followed behind the grand parade of royalty.

Legolas and Gimli were Laurelin's dearest friends and mentors. It was Legolas who had taught her how to shoot an arrow and speak Elvish. When she was fourteen he had taken her to the Forests of Mirkwood with Gimli and her father. She longed still to go once again.

Gimli had taught her how to wield an axe properly and she had taught him how to ride upon a horse, which was an adventure that the three still laughed about. They had been her older brothers of sorts and she had been their little sister which neither had. Laurelin spoke easily about them and felt she could tell or ask them anything, which she did often.

"So what was this big important business that kept you three so long," She whispered as they walked through the many-pillared halls. "You'll find out later," Whispered back Legolas giving a sideways glance to Gimli, who returned the look and then the two went silent with a puzzled Laurelin between them.

The company entered the great hall and each took their seats at the two grand tables, a larger one at the center, and another set upon a dais for the visiting royalty. Laurelin wished to sit with Legolas and Gimli, but her father and mother bade her to sit at the high table with them, her aunt and uncle and Queen Arwen and King Elessar. Much to her distress she was seated between Queen Arwen and King Elessar. She shrank between such grand and royal figures and kept silent for most of the beginning of the banquet. Queen Arwen saw her uncomfortable look and tried to engage the nervous young girl in a conversation.

"My dear Laurelin, my you have grown so very much since I last saw you," She said with an easy smile. Laurelin opened up a bit and grinned back warily, "I see my idea for a name did not go over well," She continued, "I fear your name should have been Morwen, which means dark lady, by the looks of you now."

"Oh but I like my name very much indeed," Said Laurelin trying to make some try at talking to the Queen, "I would not change it,"

"Good," Said the queen smiling wider, "I am glad you are content. Now, as we were riding in, I could not help but notice there were no horses about. Now I do dearly wish to see Rohan horses once again, I love to ride. It has become almost second nature to me over the years." Laurelin felt as though her heart would burst with happiness. She had learned to ride a horse before she learned to walk and it came as almost as natural to her as eating and breathing, and finding that Queen Arwen felt the same made Laurelin much more at ease about talking to the Queen.

"Really? How terrible! I cannot believe why the horses would not be about! Well, if you wish, I could introduce you to my horse Linad tomorrow," Rambled Laurelin who wished to go on but stopped herself before she seemed rude.

The Queen laughed at Laurelin's eagerness, "I would love to meet your horse, and any more horses you can get together."

The trumpeters drawing attention to King Elessar and Laurelin's father and uncle who were standing to make an announcement suddenly interrupted Laurelin and Queen Arwen's conversation.

"Friends from afar and close to home," Said Faramir, "I have called your attention for a specific announcement of an event which seems to have evolved over these last months. Before I tell you all our news I would wish to have my daughter to stand."

Laurelin stood nervously, not knowing what her father meant.

"King Elessar and I have decided to set a bond between Rohan, and the Reunited Kingdom. In the coming spring, the marriage of my daughter Laurelin and the son of King Elessar, Eldarion, shall take place making a lasting bond between our families."

A cry rose up from the center table and Queen Arwen, Queen Lothiriel, and Laurelin's mother stood clapping, but Laurelin said nothing but just stood in shock. Marriage? Who was Eldarion anyway? She could not move all she could do was stand and fight the growing number of tears that tried to fight their way over her cheeks. They had all been in on this arranged marriage, all of the people she loved. No one was innocent. She did not wish to marry a man she did not know, nor leave her home. The people at the center table sat down, but all were standing at the High table, including Laurelin.

"So daughter, what have you to say?" Said her father.

Laurelin looked over at him numbly. All was silent, yet in the barren air a single word forced it's way from Laurelin's lips and hung over the room like a spell.

"No."

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