3rd October 3018, The Third Age, nearly four years later
We are summoned back to Edoras again, for what should be a celebration. Théoden, my uncle, our king, commemorates the passing of another year since the day of his birth. But the happy purpose of our gathering is overshadowed by the decline of the man we honour. I do not know how my sister bears it, to stand by him each day and watch him fall further into ruin. But we mouth empty words wishing him health and long life, and all the while it is plain that he will have neither.
The ordeal is done at last and we stand while he makes his way to his rooms, clutching the arm of the reviled Gríma. My hand tightens on my sword hilt and I wish that removing the Worm's head from his shoulders would solve our problems. But my uncle would still be falling into early decrepitude with no way of reversing the tide and the Mark would lose one of her defenders to the swift hand of justice for unlawful killing.
I do not wish to seek my bed so early, for my mind is in turmoil and would not let me rest, of this I do not doubt. But a memory of a happy time a world away intrudes . . .Remember the hiding place I showed you . . . I left something there for you.
Théo and the last time we were together in Wellington, in Karl's world. I look around for him, no . . . not for him, but instead for Théodred
, the sad and weary prince who lives here, in this time. I know the evening pained him more than it has me, for I do not see him. I am certain that he withdrew from this farce of a celebration as soon as was polite.
I make my way into the private area of Meduseld, where the royal household lives, and begin counting the elaborately carved pillars. ( If I recall, it was the seventh one on the left, nearly at the end of the passage. )