Title: Warrior Bride
Challenge: Holiday Mathoms Challenge
Word Count: 600
Warning/s: slash, human sacrifice, kind of dark (but there is romance, honest!)
Summary: Set in Dunland, in the years 2757-2758 of the Third Age.Wulf's lover, Calum, must be sacrificed to ensure victory over Rohan.
Written for this request:
I'd like a Valentine's Day kind of holiday... about the Rohirrim or any of their ancestors (branches of Men) (I especially like stories about Dunlendings). Rating can be from PG to R. I'm going to make it a little bit harder this time as well by asking for slash. So basically this is a request for a romance story between two men/boys who are from a race where physical affection is not seen as often.
Gildas the Seer said:
When the black wolf bathes in the blood of the white dove, his enemies shall scatter like witless sheep before him. The usurpers shall be cast out of the ancestral lands, and the wolf shall take up the golden throne, and sharpen his fangs on the bones of the children of the forgoil's king.
Her words fall upon my ears like shards of ice. The blood in my veins freezes. Do I listen to this crone, milky eyed and crooked with age? Must I cut out my own heart to avenge the murder of my father?
I first saw him tending his flock on a green hilltop in my father's country. His sorrel hair blew free in the morning breeze, and his eyes sang to my heart of love. I could have commanded his obedience, taken him then without leave. But it was his smile that I longed for, not his tears.
Hours turned to days, days to weeks, and he did not seem to tire of my company. And one day, playful touches turned to caresses, caresses to a deep embrace.
"Calum," I whispered, hardly daring to hope.
"Yes, my lord," he answered, and smiled.
I would not tell him of the seer's words. Yet hear of them he did; and once his choice was made, I could not shake him from it.
My lord, I would gladly give my life for you to avenge your father's death, and to regain that which was taken from our people. But, pray grant me this. I wish to marry, so that I may pass swiftly from this life upon the tears of my bride, like a leaf carried away upon a gentle stream.
But no maiden of the village stepped forward to be widowed in a day.
That day, my spear hand held a bouquet of herbs: rosemary, parsley, and sage. My shield hand held Calum's. We made our vows, and were draped with the cord that would bind us unto death. A loaf was broken above my head, though this union would be a barren one and brief. Yet those nearby still gathered the crumbs for good luck.
That night, we lay in each other's arms as if for the first time. As morning approached, seed mingled with sweat, sweet release with bitter tears. Our love was unbounded, our wedding bed a bier, awash in grief.
When dawn came, Calum stood shivering in a thin, white garment. But his voice did not waiver.
For my country, and my people, and my lord.
But his eyes spoke to me of more -- of a love that was and should never have been -- and those words would echo in my heart until the day it beat its last.
One stroke of the axe, and his lifeblood spilled down the stone and into the ceremonial bowl. I bathed my hands in the warmth of it, then bowed my head to catch the tears that would speed him on his journey.
I challenge him before the very doors of Meduseld: Haleth, son of Helm.
Your head shall be wergild for my father.
My words still ring in the cold, clear air when he falls on his knees before me. But in this moment I think not of how the straw-heads robbed us of our land. Nor do I think of my father, bloodied and broken by a single blow of Helm's hand.
Your head for the head of my bridegroom.
Below, blood runs in a crimson stream down the stone steps. Above, the whine of dove's wings echo among the parapets.
Notes: I took enormous liberties here with the idea of a Valentine's Day type of holiday. This story is based on the Indian story of Krishna and Aravan. Aravan was sacrificed by his people to win a war, and his last wish was to marry. Lord Krishna took on a female form, granted his wish, and became a widow the next day. In India, there is a festival in Koovagam which celebrates this story. Men (gay, straight, and eunichs) take part in a wedding ceremony during which they "marry" the deity Aravan for a day.
Wulf was the son of the chieftain, Freca. He led a successful invasion of Rohan in the year of the Long Winter. Calum is an OMC. It is a Celtic name, which means dove. And for the record, I doubt the Dunlendings actually took part in ritual human sacrifice.