Eowyn lifted her chin, gazing around at the capital of Rohan, Edoras. All of the decorations were in place, all the banners bearing the Silmaril Awards emblem raised high and flapping in the morning breeze. Today’s ceremony was for the women brave of heart, those who would not cower in the face of danger but would charge forward to save their country and those they loved, heroic women who she wanted to support and encourage.
She’d had all the men of Rohan leave Edoras for the event, strongly urging them to find something else to do for the day. They hadn’t gone far, but just enough to let the women celebrate this award without any testosterone clouding the air.
“The guests have arrived!” shouted one of her female guards, and Eowyn turned her gaze.
The five nominees, their supporters, and a long throng of women elves and humans made their way through the streets towards them. Eowyn welcomed them and gestured to the wide amphitheater standing behind her, built just for the occasion, and the throng made their way into the terraced rows of seats.
Just when most everyone had settled down on the velvet cushions, a sound echoed across Edoras.
A loud and ear-aching sound.
“What is that noise?” Eowyn questioned, furrowing her brow. She leaped up the stairs of the amphitheater and made her way up to the palace, the highest point from which she could view the large town and streets below.
The sound came again, and a throng of something was winding its way through the lower streets and headed her way. She squinted to better see. It was a long line of dwarves! Riding on rams, no less! The sound was their horns!
What on Middle Earth had brought them here?
She spotted Arwen standing near the foot of the palace and she hurried down the steps to her. “What are dwarves doing here? We aren’t prepared for this! And no matter what their reason is for coming, I cannot allow males at this sacred award ceremony!”
Arwen gracefully glanced from the approaching dwarves to Eowyn. “They are not the brightest bunch. It could be that they mistook this to be the location for the ceremony of Most Epic Hero.”
The line of dwarves had at last reached the base of the palace stairs, and there, the head dwarf dismounted his massive ram mount. They were an untidy bunch, these dwarves; their hair may have been braided or combed into giant curls and loops, but they were dusty from travel and their laughter was louder than mules. Their fur and leather garments may have been fine enough for dwarvish culture, but to Eowyn it was seriously lacking in style. Plenty of gold and jewels ornamented their necks, arms, and even their ears and hair, but it was to the point of being gaudy and outright ridiculous.
Eowyn mustered every ounce of courtesy and grace that she could manage and approached the head dwarf, who wore a massive ring of jewels around his thick head of braids. “Good dwarves, what brings you here to Edoras? You may not be aware, but we are currently hosting a private award ceremony, and cannot offer you the hospitality we normally would.”
“Aye, young lass, we know,” answered the dwarf. “That’s why we be here! To celebrate the brave women of Middle Earth! And naturally that must include us.”
Eowyn’s lips pressed together in confusion and unease, and she leaned her head slightly forward. “I beg your pardon? Why should that include…?” She felt a tug on her sleeve, and turned her head.
Arwen leaned close to her ear. “They are women dwarves,” she whispered.
Eowyn turned her head further to look Arwen in the eye. There was nothing of female whatsoever in these creatures.
Arwen gave a polite nod and flashed a smile for the dwarves, and whispered again, “They don’t have beards.”
Eowyn looked again. Indeed, not a single dwarf flaunted a beard, the hairy chins which the dwarves seemed to be so proud of. “They…are women,” she repeated. She then recalled Gimli once telling her that most people didn’t believe dwarf women existed, and Aragorn had mentioned that the only way to tell the difference between the genders was if they had or lacked a beard.
“Oh…oh my.” Eowyn gathered herself together, smoothing away the shock from her face. She turned to the female dwarves with her best smile. “We were not aware you would be coming. Welcome, women of the dwarven kingdoms, to Rohan.” She curtsied.
“Aye, a pleasure to meet you lot!” The dwarf woman gave a friendly punch to Eowyn’s shoulder. “Seeing as how this award be for all brave female kind, we couldn’t not join in on the fun!”
Eowyn rubbed her shoulder. “Yes, certainly…” She turned, flashed a look at Arwen (who tried not to grin), and proceeded to guide the large group of buff ladies over to the amphitheater. “Let us get you all seated. The ceremony is about to begin.”
The five nominees for the Heroine award stood off to the side of the circular stage, waiting. Cordelia Beaumont adjusted her hat and blonde curls. Leeli and Pet were both busy listening to Cress describe how to design a satellite. And Sophie tried to ask what a satellite was. Their conversations dwindled down to a quiet hush when Eowyn made her way down the terraced rows to the stage, her embroidered blue gown whispering across the carpeted steps.
Pet peered around the other four nominees to see a group of short, brawny ladies filing into the rows of seats near the front and forcing a group of elves to scoot over. “What the? Female dwarves? Cool!” Pet exclaimed.
Eowyn took her place at the center of the stage. “Welcome, brave women of the fictional realms, to the Most Epic Heroine awards ceremony! Where we celebrate the truest of the true and the most courageous of heart. I will now introduce you to our five nominees for this epic award!
“Cordelia Beaumont of the Afterverse series!”
The lady came forward onto the stage and curtsied gracefully.
“Pet of the City Between series!”
Pet flipped her brown hair about and trotted forward, waving her arms up in a victory sign. “This is awesome! You all are awesome!”
“Cress from the Lunar Chronicles series.”
Cress came forward awkwardly, trying to hide her face behind her hand. “There are so many people watching…” she murmured.
“Leeli of the Wingfeather saga series!”
Leeli limped forward with her crutch, taking her place beside Cress.
“Sophie of Howl’s Moving Castle!”
Sophie came forward, a bit timid, but managed to hold her smile.
“These are our nominees!” Eowyn declared, and the amphitheater was filled with the sound of applause. She waited until the cheering subsided and the jovial shouts of the dwarves dwindled before continuing. “And now, the moment we have all been waiting for…”
Everyone leaned forward in their seats.
Arwen glided onto the stage, bearing in her hands a silken white pillow upon which rested a most gorgeous gem: the Silmaril medallion:
“Fifth place goes to Cordelia Beaumont!
“Fourth place goes to Cress!
“Third place goes to Leeli!
“Second place goes to…Sophie!
“And now, the winner of the Silmaril for Most Epic Herione is…Pet!!”
Loud applause shook the columns and stone flooring of the amphitheater as all rose and many stomped their feet and shouted their joy.
Pet came forward to receive the award, skipping and dancing on her way. “I can’t believe this! Guys, this is amazing! I won something cool!!”
Arwen lifted the medallion to place it around her neck.
“What?!” exclaimed the chief female dwarf all the sudden. “You mean, that’s it? Only she gets the beautiful Silmaril gem?”
Eowyn paused her clapping hands, and the girl who won quietly backed away, whispering: “I sense a fight coming on…”
“Well…it is an award which only one person may win each year. And the decision is not ours, but the voters’ choice,” Eowyn explained with a friendly smile.
“And what about us?” the chief fumed, flipping her rope-thick braids. “Are we not brave and heroic? Are dwarf women never going to be recognized or acknowledged for our hard labor?”
“We deserve an award for our valor!” shouted one of the other dwarf ladies.
“We deserve to have such a valuable gem!” shouted another, waving her fist in the air.
“Such a lovely and large gem,” said the dwarf beside her.
“Aye, a gem worthy of our heroic deeds,” agreed the chief. Every dwarf was staring at the Silmaril, and not just in awe, but in a frightening way. A covetous and greedy way. A way that made her fear a full on battle might take place here and now. After all, the dwarves and their greed for rare gems was legendary and terrifying. Just ask Bilbo.
Eowyn backed away from the row of dwarves, pulling the girl back with her. Arwen still held the Silmaril and she tried to casually shift it behind her back.
Eowyn turned her gaze frantically to Arwen and the nominees. “I don’t suppose any of you, being from other worlds, might have a way to…calmly fix this situation?” she whispered.
The dwarves were leaving their row of seats and coming onto the stage towards Arwen and the Silmaril. “Just hand the fancy gem over nicely to us, aye?” spoke the chief, a feverish gleam in her eye. “We won’t keep it. We’ll just…admire it for a while, care for it…protect it…” Her voice lowered with feverish desire and covetousness, not unlike that of a dragon. Her companions mirrored the same emotions, lifting axes from their belts.
“I’ve had enough of this! This is utterly ridiculous!” spoke Lady Cordelia, who stood behind Eowyn and the nominees. She raised her hands, and a cloud of glowing blue runes appeared in the air above her. “The greed of dwarves is truly unrivaled.” She sniffed. To Eowyn and the other four girls she commanded, “Hold out your hands.”
They did so, and from the cloud of magic dropped more than twenty medallions bearing shiny gems equal in appearance to the Silmaril.
Cordelia nodded to Eowyn, who right away understood her strategy.
“Here, oh valiant dwarves!” cried Eowyn, and she came forward to halt them before they could surround Arwen. “We did not forget to honor you. See, here, the medallions made for the award of Bravest Beardless Ones!”
She and the other girls approached the uncertain dwarves, who paused, and held out the glistening medallions.
“Awards…for us?” asked the chief, lowering an eyebrow skeptically.
“The Beardless Ones?” asked another dwarf.
“The Bravest?” questioned another.
Then all the female dwarves looked to one another. And then they laughed and raised their fists to the sky and clapped each other on the shoulders.
“That describes us perfectly, aye?”
“Aye, it does!”
“What lovely, shiny gems!”
The chief took a red ruby medallion and held it high, admiring the many sparkling facets. “The men will be full of jealousy when they see these beauties!”
“Aye, not even they have ever won such grand awards and treasures as these!”
The dwarves’ laughter reverberated throughout the amphitheater, making the elves and humans cover their ears.
The chief kissed her medallion and slipped it on over her thick neck, and the other women did likewise. “You have given us a great honor, Lady Eowyn of Rohan!”
Eowyn smiled and dabbed at the sweat on her brow. Arwen secretly handed the true winner, Pet, her Heroine Silmaril and ushered her out of the amphitheater through the back stairway during the commotion.
Everyone else cheered, filled with relief, and Eowyn mouthed a “thank you” to Cordelia, who nodded.
“Now that the ceremony is over, it’s time for the feast!” shouted the chief dwarf.
“Feast! Feast! Feast!!” the other dwarves began to chant.
The elves shook their heads in dread.
Eowyn’s smile faltered. “The…feast?”
She had only prepared a light meal for the nominees and guests–the human and elf guests. NOT for starving, hungry, food-eating-machine dwarves…
Rohan didn’t have that kind of money.
“Um…” she turned to Cordelia once more. “I don’t suppose you could use your magical spells to create a feast? A very large, dwarf-style feast…?”
And there you have it! Our Winner for Most Epic Heroine!
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