It is the Rohirrim looking for horse thieves, and Grima Woemtongue rides with them
Chapter 13: Edoras
by Bell Witch, 28 December 2005 15:40 (GMT)
The man called Strider moved forward, motioning for his companions to stay back. Faramir edged ahead as well, noting the grim look on the face of the man who had practically accused him of stealing his own horse.
"Who is out there?" Faramir whispered.
"You should have stayed back where you'd be safe. At any rate, 'tis not Orcs but Rohirrim. No doubt they are in pursuit of the horse thieves." Strider looked directly into Faramir's eyes, making the young man very nervous. Strider turned to his companions. "We have nothing to fear from these riders."
The elder dark-haired man spoke. "Though perhaps our young companion might."
"That is not our problem," Alderhed replied, looking coldly at Faramir.
"Hail, riders of Rohan," Strider called. "What brings you here in such weather?"
The lead rider signaled to the others to stop and came forward alone. "We chase horse thieves, though our ability to follow them in this," he waved disgustedly at the rain, "is likely to make our efforts in vain."
"Perhaps not," Alderhed said as he came forward. "This man has a mean appearance and yet rides one of your animals with little care for her welfare."
Faramir opened his mouth to protest, then closed it again. He walked to where the men of the eored could see him.
"Where is this horse, boy?" The lead rider asked.
"I did not steal her."
A rider in a heavy black cloak came forward, stopping even with the lead horse. "Perhaps you did not, but that is not the question that was asked." The speaker's voice was not loud but managed to penetrate through the storm. He looked up and Faramir recognised him as Grima, advisor to Theoden.
Faramir was confused. Grima must have known who he was; yet kept silent. He sighed and went to bring out his horse, grimacing at how tired she appeared and wishing he dared to explain. As he led her forward, he looked at the riders and was pleased to note that none were familiar.
"How came you by this animal?" The lead rider wanted to know.
"She was given to me," Faramir replied honestly.
"A likely story," commented another rider to a short burst of laughter, quickly quelled by a look from Grima.
"Perhaps, perhaps not," Grima said as he looked directly at Faramir. "If the young man is willing to come with us, I would give him a chance to explain himself. What say you?"
Noting no way out of it, Faramir nodded. "I will come with you." He turned and gave a quick nod to the three men he had barely met, then walked toward the Rohirrim.
"That horse is not fit to ride," a man said.
"The young man may ride with me," Grima offered silkily. "I wear no armour and my horse barely feels my weight." He beckoned Faramir forward and bade him mount behind.
The company of riders moved out, with one of them hanging back slightly for a few words with Strider. Faramir turned away and spoke quietly to the man in front of him.
"You know who I am. Whatever your reason for not betraying me, I am grateful for it."
"Simple curiosity, Faramir son of Denethor. I wonder only why the Steward's son rides alone in dangerous territory. Now is not the to talk. I will have your story soon enough."
It was a cold and weary party that arrived in Edoras some time later. Faramir was nearly asleep on his feet as he dismounted.
"This way," he heard Grima say, moving forward only when one of the riders took his upper arm and guided him forward into a fair-sized building. He walked with half-lidded eyes as he was led to a small room with a bed in one corner. Grima ordered someone to help him with his boots and cloak, and Faramir sank down, too tired to even pull back the blankets.
He woke later to find his clothing merely slightly damp and rose stiffly, stretching.
"I wonder how long I've been asleep, for I feel much better," he said aloud. He vaguely remembered men talking and tried to recall what was said while he laced his boots, but remembered nothing. He stood again and went to the door, tugging slightly when it would not open.
"Can anyone hear me?" he called out, hitting the wood with the heel of his hand.
"Yes. Stand back."
A man Faramir didn't recognise came through the door and another stood behind him.
"Come with us," he ordered.
"Who are you? What is this place?"
"In good time, boy. Now come before we drag you out."
Faramir reached for his sword and could not find it. The knife he kept in his boot was also gone. There was nothing to do but obey. "Where are we going?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.
"Lord Grima is ready to speak with you now," one of them said.
Faramir felt relieved. This was nowhere he knew so perhaps his secret was safe. He had a brief surge of gratefulness and then stumbled as he was yanked forward by two strong pairs of arms and turned round quickly.
"What…" he choked off as the backs of his knees hit something behind him, making sit hard on a solid wooden chair. His arms were bound behind him so tightly that his shoulders were pulled back and his chest arched outward. The back of the chair was angled slightly, forcing him to look up and there was nothing to support his head. He tugged at the ropes binding his wrists, but they were fast to something on the chair and he dared not pull too hard lest he cause himself harm.
"Grima!" Faramir called in relief at the appearance of the familiar figure. He had never thought to be happy to see the pale, dark man who had wormed his way into Theoden's counsel by unknown means. "There has been some mistake."
Grima waved the other men away and turned to Faramir, who found the closing of the door ominously loud.
"There is no mistake. I said that I wondered why one of Denethor's sons would ride out alone. I can see little reason except that the Steward plots something sinister." He walked forward and stood over Faramir. "What were you doing alone in our lands?"
There was no reason not to speak the truth, and Faramir sighed. "I have been banished from Gondor and chose to ride north. That is all I have to tell."
Grima frowned. "It is known that your father favours you not, but I do not see that he would send away his own son."
"Believe it, for it is true," Faramir replied miserably.
"So, upon being ordered to leave your home, am I to believe that you would choose to come here instead of riding out elsewhere? I would imagine it more likely for you to seek the Elves."
"Perhaps I could have. Perhaps I will."
"I think that you are lying--that you were sent to spy on us."
Faramir spluttered. "That is ridiculous. Why would anyone send me to spy anywhere with so many knowing who I am?"
"The men here are all loyal to me, as are those I was riding with--they know not who you are. As to anyone else, perhaps that is why you would make such a good spy," Grima purred into Faramir's ear. "They would not suspect."
It was extremely disconcerting to have to look up into the small man's face. He tried to look elsewhere, but a hand reached out and held onto his hair.
"I am no spy: I was banished," Faramir said again, panic rising.
"Perhaps," Grima said, his face within inches of Faramir's. "Would your story change if I had you beaten?"
Faramir nearly laughed. He was almost recovered from the two beatings administered by his father and Boromir's spanking. "It would not."
"I see." Grima pulled back and looked thoughtful for a moment. "Perhaps, then, something else might loosen your tongue."
"Nothing, for I speak truth," Faramir said, eyes widening in alarm as Grima stepped close and stood over him. The grip on his hair was back, making it impossible to do more than blink as pale, narrow lips came down over his, pressing hard enough to bruise. Faramir tried to protest and, serpent-like, Grima's tongue darted forward to assault his mouth.
It seemed a long while before Grima pulled back, grinning, while Faramir stared in fear.
"Now, perhaps, you can tell me why you truly came to Rohan."
Faramir shook his head in disbelief. "I was banished, my word on it! Please, you must believe me." To his horror, the small man moved in again, pausing as the sound of swift footsteps approached the door. Two quick knocks sounded.
"What?" Grima asked irritably, going to open the door.
"Riders, Lord Grima," a man said, not even looking in Faramir's direction. "Not Rohirrim. they approach Edoras at speed. You must return to the Golden Hall."
Grima frowned, turning to Faramir. "I will be back to speak with you again."
What happens next?
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