She is his weakness, thought Thorkell bogsveigir,
watching his new lord take off his cloak and wrap it around the
womans shoulders. To defeat him, all a man needs to do is
get rid of her
One of his new comrades, a grinning, empty-headed elf named Valandil,
patted him on the shoulder. Come, help me prepare Lady Eowyns
Reduced to serving in My Ladys bedchamber. I will be emptying
the pot next
He followed the elf reluctantly, grumbling, This is not warriors
work, whilst he helped Valandil erect the wooden walls and hammer
in the pegs that held down the tented roof. Why is a woman
allowed to use us like this?
The elf fussed with the canvas door. What do you mean,
If she must have a bedchamber, why do the servants not
Lady Eowyn never asked for a shelter, said Valandil.
It was Camthalions idea to build it for herto
give her some privacy. Women, he explained, coming up beside
Thorkell and gently taking the wooden mallet from his hands, need
Frowning, the man watched the elf pull out the peg he had just
knocked in, angle it, and drive it back home. What things?
he askedalready fearing the worst.
Well, they must wash and dress, morning and night,
said Valandil, repositioning another peg, and, he
lowered his voice, you will know this better than I, Thorkellwomen
have monthly things.
The man shuddered. Why would I know about that?
The elf looked up in surprise. Have you nevererhad
Of course I have!
Then how can you not know?
Thorkell ran his hand through his hair. A man does not
Orcs bollocks!women keep all that stuff
to themselves, thank the gods. He seized the mallet, gave
several of the pegs a good, hard knock, then handed it back to
What if it happens when you are with her?
What if she starts having it when you are with her?
She takes herself off somewhere and deals with itI
do not know. He raised a hand to cut off any further discussion.
You people are
He gestured, as though pushing Valandil
He is a troublemaker, said Haldir, setting down his
tankard. Legolas and Eowyn, sitting either side of him, followed
his gaze to where Thorkell bogsveigir appeared to be arguing with
Valandil. Since he took the oath there has been one mishap
after another. Setting loose the horses
Fortunately, said Legolas, elven horses do
not stray too far.
He did not know that. Then he tried to seduce Rothinzil
Legolas laughed. He might as well have set his cap at GimliI
simply meant, elvellon, he added quickly, to the dwarf on
his right, that Rothinzil has eyes for no one but Master
Dínendal just as you have eyes for no one but Lady Galadriel.
Then, continued Haldir, there was the fire
in the Mess tent. I am convinced that that was his doing.
But you have no proof.
No. I did, however, see him drop Orodreths bow in
That may have been, as he claimed, an accident.
He is an archer, said Haldir, and, though
it pains me to say it, a bowman of considerable skill. That is
not the sort of accident an archer has. He folded his arms.
He never disobeys outright. He just
I am so sorry, March Warden, said Eowyn. I
should have asked your permission
No, no. Haldir shook his head. I am
sorry, Eowyn, I did not mean to imply that
You are Legolas
consortthe joint leader of the colonyyou have a perfect
right to appoint a man to the Border Guard.
But you are the one who has to discipline him. I should
at least have sought your advice. She smiled sadly at the
March Warden. I will speak to him tomorrow.
That will not be necessary
Yes, said Eowyn firmly, it willoh, I
will not mention anything you have just saidI will not mention
you at all. There are other things I need to discuss with him.
Legolas and Haldir exchanged glances.
Leave it to the Shieldmaiden, March Warden, said
My Lady. Thorkell bogsveigir bowed. Prince
Legolas and the March Warden ask you to join themthey are
at the rivers edge, watering the horses.
Eowyn, sitting beside the fire, eating breakfast with her brother
and Gimli, handed the remains of her porridge to the dwarf and
rose. Is there a problem down there, Master Bowswayer?
Not that I know of. The man turned to leave.
Wait. Her voice was commanding. Thorkell, realising
that his manner had been less than respectful, assumed that she
would rebuke him. Instead, she said, Will you walk with
He raised an eyebrow. Then, composing his face in what he hoped
was an expression of meek subservience, he turned towards her.
Your servant, my lady. He gestured for her to take
the lead and followed her through the maze of thorny furze bushes
that filled the sloping river bank.
They had gone no more than a few yardsthough were well
out of her brothers earshotwhen she suddenly rounded
on him. You need not do that with me, she said.
Try to hide your nature. I know you. I felltwicebeneath
your sword, and beat you the third timeI have seen your
spirit, Thorkell bogsveigir. You have not an ounce of humility
in you. You do not even know how to counterfeit.
Then why did you make me your servant?
I did not. There was real anger in her voice now.
I offered you a position of honourin days past men
were proud to serve an elven lord.
The days of Bëor are truly passed, Lady. Your elf
is no Finrod Felagund.
How dare you! She flushed crimson. Are you
saying that Legolas is no more worthy a lord than Bergthórr
beytill? Are you saying?
Bergthórr! Bergthórr is nothing but a
He caught his tongue just in time.
A what? she demanded.
Thorkell laughed, mirthlessly. What did it matter now? Bergthórr
beytill is a small man with small ambitions. Horse penis my arse!
The man cannot get a rise unless he is whipped by a whore
Sir, said Eowyn icily, you say too much.
She glanced this way and that, to check, he supposed, that neither
her brother nor her husband was watching, thentaking him,
he had to admit, by surpriseshe grasped the front of his
jerkin. You have the opportunity to serve a great lord,
Master Bowswayer; to fight beside elveselves, you fool;
to use elven weapons, to learn elven skills. You have the chance
to become a better man than you are; to make Middle Earth a better
place to live in. I have given you that chance. If you betray
me Master Bowswayerif you fail LegolasI will break
you. She released him. Now, return to your comrades.
Seething, Thorkell bogsveigir tramped back to the encampment.
That, he thought, is no lady. That is a man in skirts.