Invisible in the long grass, Orodreth raised his
hands to his mouth and whistled like a bird. Within seconds, his
comrade was crouching beside him.
What is it? whispered Valandil.
Orodreth pointed at the ground.
It was Legolas who recovered first, gathering Eowyn into his
arms with a contented sigh. He kissed her forehead. I must
speak with the others, Eowyn nín, he murmured. And
I want to talk to Thorkell bogsveigir. If I fetch you some water,
can you wash and dress yourself?
Of course, Lassui. She stifled a yawn.
Legolas chuckled, kissing her again. If you are not sitting
down to breakfast within half an hour, melmenya, I will come back
and wake you, he said.
The scouts have returned, said Haldir, joining Legolas
at the camp fire with Eomer and Gimli, and the news is badwe
may have cleaned the river bank, but Valandil has found fresh
tracks further eastseveral setsit looks as though
the Orcs are gathering forces.
To attack us, said Legolas. Where are they
now? He handed the March Warden a tankard of Gimli's dwarven
Thank you. Haldir sat down. Valandil did not
see any Orcs, he said, but he followed the spoor far
enough to know that it leads into Mirkwood. He lifted the
tankard to his mouth, caught the scent of the steaming liquid,
Get it down you, lad, said Gimli, it will do
you good. It has perked the lass up, no end.
It is best to down it in one, said Eomer. He turned
to Legolas. We have almost fifty warriors between us. I
say we follow the trail into the Forest and finish the job.
It would make sense to act quickly, Legolas agreed,
but that would leave the cavalcade unprotected. And Eowyn
I am not wounded!
Melmenya! Come and sit by the fire.
I can still fight, said Eowyn, politely declining
Gimlis offer of another tankard.
No, said Eomer.
What I was about to say, Eowyn insisted, as
she sat down beside Legolas, was, leave some of your warriors
here with me, Lassui, and you and Eomer take the rest into Mirkwood.
Oh Eowyn nín! Legolas patted her mailed arm,
proudly. The camp is too vulnerable, melmenya; you would
be defending the young, the old, the sick, the injured
I would be moving the camp, Lassuitaking everyone
somewhere safe whilst you are dealing with the Orcs. I have done
that before. She turned to the March Warden. You know
these parts, Haldir. Where should we be heading for?
Haldir glanced at Legolas. Almost imperceptibly, Legolas nodded.
I would cross the river, said the big elf. The
cavalcade would be less vulnerable on the western bank, and there
is an old Galadhrim guard post, about ten miles south, that would
make a safe camp tonight. With luck, he added, addressing
Eowyn directly now, you could be in Caras Galadhon by tomorrow.
It is a good plan, said Legolas.
I can do it, said Eowyn.
Legolas grasped Eowyns hands. You will be in charge,
melmenya, and Haldir will escort you. If we have not caught up
with you by the time you reach Lothlorien, get everyone onto the
flets and wait for us there.
I will not let you down, Lassui, said Eowyn.
What is happening? asked Thorkell bogsveigir the
moment Legolas entered the Healing Tent. Everyone is buzzing
around like blue-arsed flies. Then he added, somewhat self-consciously,
Legolasunable to suppress a smilefolded his arms
across his chest. We have found more Orc tracks, he
said. They are gathering in Mirkwood.
Thorkell sighed. If you had crossed the river, as I originally
That advice, as I remember, interrupted Legolas,
was, in fact, a threat from Bergthórr beytill. But
I am not here to argue with you Master Bowswayerin fact,
I am here to thank you for protecting my lady. He placed
his hand upon his heart and bowed his head. I am in your
Thorkells eyes narrowed. Meaning what, exactlymy
Meaning thatinsofar as you ever were tied
to meyou are now a free man.
I see, said Thorkell bogsveigir. Thank youbut
I belong to the Lady.
Legolas laughed. Yes you do. And, where her welfare is
concerned, you have shown yourself a more-than-faithful servant.
Few men could draw a Galadhrim bow, Master Bowswayerfewer
still would continue to draw it when the effort was tearing their
muscles from their bones.
He sat down on the next bed. We will take the cavalcade
across the river at the southern ford. Eowyn will lead it to Lothlorien
whilst Eomer King and I double back and deal with the Orcs. It
is unfortunate, he added, that you, with your local
knowledge, cannot be with usbut I expect you to give Eowyn
your full support.
I thought you said I was a free man.
It was one of the Beornings dry jokes but, this time, Legolas
did not laugh. I expect, he said. I do
A look passed between them. Then Thorkell bogsveigir nodded.
Though what I can do for her strapped up like this
You can second her decisions, Master Bowswayer, said
Legolas, rising. That is all she will need.
Back at the remains of the camp fire, Eowyn was slipping a few
personal things back into her small travelling pack.
Are you ready, my darling? Legolas wrapped an arm
around her shoulders. Remember, he murmured, pressing
his lips to her forehead, that if riding hurts, you can
always travel in the cart with Thorkell bogsveigir.
Did I do the right thing, Lassui? Was I right to suggest
that we separate like this? What if
Shhhhh. He hugged her tightly. I will be back
before you know it, Eowyn, he said. I promise.