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Eómer looked up from where he'd been staring at the fire that danced on the hearth and blinked at the dwarf. "What?" He belatedly handed the empty vessel over to be filled and sat up straighter.
"I asked if you remembered what day it is today." Gimli handed the refilled mug back to the king and took a swig of his own drink.
They were in the Lord of Aglarond's private chambers, their attendants dismissed, leaving the two rulers to be merely man and dwarf. Gimli knew Eómer liked visiting the Glittering Caves; there was little need for the formality that his wife had brought to the golden hall of Meduseld, and the underground realm was one place where his bodyguards had no need to hover about him.
Eómer was a bit tipsy from the portion he'd already consumed of the first cask of ale and he grinned and took a sip of the malted brew before answering, "Of course. It's the High Day."
Gimli shook his head. "That's not what I meant. Here, there's something I want to show you." Still carrying his tankard, he stumped towards the door, beckoning Eómer to follow.
The King of the Riddermark was slightly unsteady on his feet as he stood and followed, ducking his head as he passed through the door, even though the dwarves had made all of their portals suitable for Men or Elves to pass through with ease. "Have you discovered a new grotto or some such blazing with jewels and light?"
"You'll see." Gimli refused to say more as he moved along the main passageway that led from the surface into the heart of his realm, Eómer following, until they came to an alcove on the right hand side that held a door made of ironwood, and bound in mithril.
"This is new," Eómer observed as Gimli fished a large key from his belt pouch and carefully unlocked the door.
"Aye." Gimli turned to brace the door closed with the heel of his boot, preventing it from swinging open. "What happened seven years ago today, Eómer? I know you're not drunk enough to forget entirely."
Eómer closed his eyes for a moment then looked down at Gimli. "I don't think there's enough ale in Arda to wash away the memory of the Battle of the Hornburg."
Gimli let the door swing open and a swath of golden light temporarily blinded Eómer. The dwarf continued, "You told me back then that your people carry their history in song, and have done so ever since Eorl the Young rode into these lands for the first time." He ushered the King inside and stood for a moment, cradling his ale tankard in both hands, looking not at the chamber in which they stood, but at Eómer's face.
He knew every one of the hundreds of mithril horses inlaid on the glittering walls, having put most of them there himself. The names that were engraved on each ran through his head in a litany of the households of Edoras and the Westmarch. They ran in a continuous spiral about the round chamber, beneath a deeply engraved frieze that showed old Theoden-King's restoration and the events of the battle from the army's arrival at the Deeping Coombe, to the riding of the old King and the new one along with the remaining members of the Fellowship to the tower of Orthanc.
He reached out and rescued the forgotten tankard from Eómer's hands, and placed it on the highly polished stone floor as the Man stared in wonder.
"Every one of the men and boys who fell here that terrible day and night before Erkenbrand brought in his reinforcements, the night the wall fell, are here. When the walls up above are rubble and ruin from time's hand; they will be here, imperishable, long after all of your songs are forgotten."
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