Pain, then nothing. He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them, Eowyn was looking down into his face. She was crying. When did he get off of that battlefield? And why was Eowyn crying? And wearing….armor? He spoke to her, he couldn't remember what either of them said, then he closed his eyes once more, so tired. So tired. He'd failed his people. His last thought, then nothing.
He awoke in a large room. Or maybe it was small. It was….foggy. He was dressed in some sort of robe. His sword was gone, his armor too. He sat up and looked around. The fog cleared as he became more aware of his surroundings. He took one deep breath and called out.
"Gamling? Where are we?" He knew there was no use calling for Hama; he was dead. As the fog cleared even more, he saw he was in a large hall. It looked very much like Meduseld, but was bigger, brighter, cleaner. The stones weren't covered in smoke from the fires. There was no smell or feel of fear. No scent of death. He knew this wasn't anyplace he had been before. Not in Rohan, not in Gondor even. He must be feverish and delusional.
Then a voice in his ear.
Theoden swung around, instinctively reaching for his weapon and came face to face with his son.
"What is this? Théodred? No. I saw your wound. I know you died. Eowyn wouldn't have been wrong about it. What manner of sorcery is this?"
"No tricks, father. Think for a moment. We are in the halls of our ancestors. You did not fail your people. Our people. It was decided long ago that Eomer was to be king. You did exactly as you needed." Théodred stretched out his hand, waiting for Theoden to take it.
"But Eowyn…was at the battle. She shouldn't have been there."
"Yes, she was needed. It was necessary."
Theoden stared at his son's hand, then he looked into his eyes. He took hold of Théodred then, pulling him close in a tight hug.
"You have been waiting for me here? Saruman is not dead, but he paid for your death in part."
Théodred had to smile. As always, his father was concerned with justice and the reckoning of accounts. "Yes, I know that. He has more waiting for him as well. At least I think he does. But that is of no matter here. Father, there is real peace, and no fear, no pain. You may rest here, finally."
Theoden looked around again, his eyes widening. "Then I am…here? This is really…?"
This time, Théodred laughed. Theoden had not heard that in so long. "Yes, you are really here. In the halls of the ancestors. No more suffering, or pain, or regrets. Come with me and see."
Théodred led his father from the large hall into an even larger one. This time, it was full of people that Théoden had long ago seen die, or seen only in paintings or portraits. His father, his grandfather, and all their fathers before them. He could finally put his fears to rest. He had not failed, obviously. Indeed, he must have triumphed greatly to be rewarded like this. Eomer would serve Rohan well; Théoden did not doubt that. And then he too, would join them all. And just as he was ready to ask about his wife, and sister, and mother, they all appeared, as if from behind a cloud. Théoden could be at peace. The halls of his ancestors were as grand as he'd imagined. And so much more.
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