First we need to backtrack to Volume III, Book 2 of the epic line. This volume had us heading south with the Grey Company into the hills and plains of Enedwaith, a region heavily populated by different factions of Dunlendings. We met a Dunlending warrior named Wadu in Chapter 9 and gained his trust - a very difficult thing to do with Dunlending peoples.
In a subsequent quest in Chapter 11, while on a task for Saeradan, we discovered a sword with ancient markings. Saeradan determines that this is a sword of the Rohirrim. As you search to find the presumable man of Rohan who owned that sword, you discover the owner was actually the Dunlending Wadu, and he is dead.
Saeradan: "I am sorry indeed to hear that Wadu has been slain, but I cannot understand how he came to possess the sword that was taken from him. It is without doubt a sword of the Rohirrim, and the Men of Rohan are no friend to the clans of Dunland. There is a long history of war between the two, and I fear that if Saruman's plans continue to bear fruit there will be war again. Why would Wadu have borne such a sword? And what brought him to that road to die? Was he so o'ermatched in number that even such a well-crafted sword could avail him nothing?"
|Thanks Corudan so I don't feel like three's a crowd.|
But let's get back to that sword. There is a lot of time spent on that sword back in the Chapters of Volume III, Book 2. You find it, Saeradan analyzes it closely and comments on how it could possibly have ended up in the hands of a Dunlending warrior so far away from Rohan, you hunt it down for Nora after she left it under Wadu's favorite tree and she decides she wants to use it. A lot of running around and attention for an old sword, and we still do not know where it came from, only that "it came to" her brother Wadu somehow. However, in a bit of what I think is foreshadowing, in Book 6, Chapter 8, as Horn is contemplating the statue of Eorl the Young and Cirion, he muses about the great battle that took place on the Field of Celebrant, and has the feeling that the sword carried by Nona was present during that battle. Hmmmm.....
Later as we begin to encounter the Rohirrim, we also encounter their great disdain for and stereotyping of the Dunlendings, even toward someone like Nona who is on their side as an enemy against the forces of darkness. Even as she lies wounded in Stangard at the end of Book 6, several of the Rohirrim are disinclined to do anything to help and would have left her to die, if not for the assistance of Horn. And she comes close to losing her sword to the Thane of Stangard at one point. Again - that sword.
In the epic books that take us into the East Wall and Rohan, we see a growing romance between Nona of the Dunlendings and Horn of Rohan. Ain't it always the way. But I think this is symbolic of what I fully expect us to learn in future epic books: that Nona is actually part Dunlending and part of Rohirrim descent, and that she and Horn will play a significant role in starting to bring together two groups of peoples who have hated each other for hundreds of years.
|Map of Rohan, thanks to The Thain's Book|
Helm Hammerhand was King of Rohan from 2691-2759 of the Third Age, over 200 years before the events of the War of the Ring. During his rule there was a man in Rohan named Freca who owned large tracts of land on either side of the Adorn River, between the Isen and White Mountains, in the west of Rohan. Freca is described as being rich and powerful, and though Helm included him in his councils, he disliked and mistrusted him. Though a man of Rohan, Freca was also suspect of having "much Dunlendish blood, and was dark-haired." Appendix A states he claimed to be descended from King Freawine, who would have been Helm's Great-Great-Grandfather, thus making the two of them distant cousins.
During one meeting at Edoras, Freca attended with a number of his men and asked Helm to give the hand of his daughter to Freca's son, Wulf. Helm's response was "no thanks," although perhaps not delivered as diplomatically as it could have been: "You have grown big since you were last here; but it is mostly fat, I guess." All of the men of Edoras laughed. After the meeting Helm took Freca outside and away from all of their men to speak privately, again basically told him he was stepping way outside his bounds, and punched him hard enough that Freca fell and soon after died.
Freca's son Wulf was furious, and led a large host of Dunlendings against Edoras and occupied it, slaying one of Helm's sons while Helm had retreated to the Hornburg (what we also know as "Helm's Deep"). At the same time, Rohan was again being invaded by Easterlings, and this time enemies of Gondor joined in Wulf's attack. Rohan was completely overrun and its people fled to the mountains. Wulf and the Dunlendings (sounds like the name of a garage band) occupied Edoras over the long winter of 2758-9, when all of Rohan lay under snow for almost 5 months. Both the Rohirrim and their enemies in Edoras suffered. Helm's second and last son, Hama, set forth from the Hornburg to retake Edoras, but was lost in the snow. Finally Helm himself set out solo and barehanded to take on all of the Dunlendings in the belief that if he himself bore no weapons, no weapon could "bite" him. This led to a Dunlending legend that Helm actually ate his enemies. An interesting plan of Helm's but nevertheless he was found dead, frozen upright. Anyone getting the impression that our noble Helm of Helm's Deep infamy was a bit nuts???
Finally the winter broke and a company of Rohirrim led by Frealaf, a nephew of Helm and ancestor of our King Theoden, retook Edoras and defeated Wulf.
My theory is that Nona is somehow a descendant of Wulf and Freca, thus making her also part a descendant of King Freawine (not to mention a very, very, very distant counsin of Theoden, Eomer, and Eowyn) and so of Rohan blood as well as a woman of Dunland. Somehow the sword will turn out to have belonged to Wulf, possibly handed down from King Freawine - maybe even from Eorl himself or at least someone else who was present at the Battle of Parth Celebrant, if we can trust the intuition of Horn.
A lot of backstory to get to my brief theory! Only time will tell if I predict correctly or am way off the mark (and way off the Mark as well). And I'm looking forward to it either way. Yeah, I'm a Nona/Horn 'Shipper at heart. Bring on the next Epic Book!
Sources: The Return of the Kings, Appendix A and Unfinished Tales