The elves of Eryn Carantaur used various drills
to hone their skillsclout archery, roving archery, flight
archery, even combat archery with blunt, padded-tipped arrowsbut
today Haldir had set up a row of five simple square targets, each
identically spotted with coloured circles of various sizes, and
his warriors, standing at a distance of fifty yards, were taking
turns to shoot at the colours called by the March Warden, their
skilled performance drawing excited cheers from the crowd of Rohirrim
that had gathered to watch.
When it came to Legolas turn, he took his place at the
line, standing between Valandil and Thorkell bogsveigir.
Good morning, my Lord, said Thorkell, with a slight
bow. He drew an arrow from his quiver and fitted it to his bowstring.
Good morning, Master Bowswayer, said Legolas. May
My Lady, the man interrupted, has already been
kind enough to inform me of your offerbut I will not be
needing a leave of absence.
Legolas frowned. It was perfectly correct for a servant to refer
to his mistress as my Lady but in Thorkell's case something
about it had soundedpossessive. He turned to the man
Make ready, called Haldir, raising a red flag.
Since the arrows used in all but the combat drills were tipped
with lethal bodkin points, the drills followed a strict procedure.
Haldir was standing to the right and slightly forward of the line
of archers, where his signals were clearly visible; Orodreth,
holding a second red flag, was standing opposite, to the left
of the line, and mirroring the March Wardens actions.
Vowing to speak to the man later, Legolas turned back to the
field and, carefully emptying his mind of everything but the target,
nocked an arrow.
You show em, lad.
Legolas smiled. Gimli had clearly pushed his way to the front
of the crowd. The elf re-focussed.
Three in red, called Haldir, and he and Orodreth
dropped their flags.
Legolas promptly shot three arrows into the red circle, placing
one at the centre and slightly offsetting the others, to avoid
damaging the first shaft. He lowered his bowsuddenly hearing,
once more, the cheers of the crowd behind him.
Make safe! cried Haldir, raising the red flag. The
other archers lowered their bows.
Legolas scanned the targets. The elves had all shot well, each
hitting the red circle three timesthough none, he thought,
had placed the arrows quite as well as he hadbut Thorkell
bogsveigir had more than matched them, arranging his shafts in
a precise triangletop centre, lower left and lower right
of the circle.
Well done, said Legolas, quietly.
Eowyn ran to the group of people huddled round the mess tableBerryn,
Lord Fingolfin and, she was almost certain
The third figure, the nervous youth, suddenly lifted his head,
and his hood fell back.
Eowyn slid to a halt, raising a hand to her mouth. The reddish
hair had recently been hacked short, and stiff, uneven strands
were sticking out in all directions. But the fair, flawless complexion
and the pale blue eyes were undisguised, and confirmed her worst
By the gods, she said. Have you taken leave
of your senses?
With the flags raised, the archers were given permission to retrieve
Legolas, walking back to the line, noticed coins changing hands
between spectators and shook his head with a faint smile. Some
of them will have made a tidy sum on Master Bowswayers performance,
he thought. Of course, the short distance favours him
He took his place beside the Beorning.
Make ready, called Haldir.
Legolas nocked an arrow.
Three in gold. The March Warden lowered his flag.
Legolas loosed. His first arrow flew true, piercing the small
golden circle dead-centre. He reached over his shoulder, andbefore
he had time to withdraw another shafta second arrow thudded
into his target, a fraction of an inch from the first, and angled
as though shot from somewhere to his right
Please do not blame Berryn, whispered Gunnhildr Bergthórsdottir.
He did not know that I was coming.
Eowyn pulled out one of the folding chairs and sat down heavily.
Gunnhildr bit her lip. I was disguised as one of the messengers.
Obviously, said Eowyn. But all three leftLegolas
saw them go. He was concerned that one of them seemed to be
She sighed. He was not sleeping. What was he?
A cloth man, said Gunnhildr. I sewed him from
sackinghe fitted into my saddle bag. When I got here, I
stuffed him with blankets, and weighted him with grainthere
were pockets in all the right places. I did not steal the
blankets or the grain, she added, quickly, I paid
Eomer Kings cook for them. Berryn patted her hand.
Heðinn,she was referring to the man who
had brought the message for Thorkell bogsveigirhelped
me do it.
That, began Eowyn, impressed despite herself, that
waswho would have thought that, in the right hands, needlework
could be so dangerous?
Legolas heard the crowd gasp.
MAKE SAFE! bellowed Haldir. THORKELL BOGSVEIGIR
Despite his barely contained rage, the March Warden waited until
the archers had lowered their bows before storming out onto the
field to confront the Beorning. You, he barked,
standing eye-to-eye with the equally tall but much slighter man,
will never touch a bow again. You will spend the
rest of your life grooming horses and cleaning tack. You
Wait, March Warden, said Legolas, quietly. Master
Bowswayer was issuing a challenge. To me. And I accept
said Haldir. He drew Legolas aside. Please.
He has broken the rules of practice and endangered all his comrades.
He swore an oath of loyalty to you and he has broken that, too.
He must be punished.
Afterwards, said Legolas.
Suppose he wins?
Legolas patted Haldirs arm, smiling. In that unlikely
event, March Warden, I will still be a Kings son, and his lord.
Eowyn turned to Fingolfin. What do you advise, my
The elf thought for a moment. Lady Gunnhildr will quickly
be missed, he said, and her father will no doubt track
her here. But I do not believe that he will attack. I do not believe
he wants to fight
Then why did he send his champion to challenge Berryn,
asked Eowyn, if not to provoke a battle?
To put us at a legal disadvantage, replied Fingolfin.
I think that Bergthórr beytill wanted Berryn to refuse
the challenge so that he could appeal for justice to a higher
To Thranduil, as Lord Legolas father and King, said
Fingolfin. Or perhaps to Elessar, as King of the Reunited
And I ruined his plan by accepting the challenge on Berryns
If I am right, then, yes. And he will not miss another
With King Thranduil, perhaps he hopes to re-negotiate his
rights to the mithril mines, said Eowyn, though I
do not think much for his chances. But what justice
can he seek from Aragorn?
That, I do not know
My Lady, Lord Fingolfin, said Berryn suddenly. There
is a simple answer to this problemGunnhildr and I will leave
the cavalcade and travel alone. It will have to be south
He paused, as though mentally consulting one of his own maps.
Far Harad. We will make for Pelargir and thence to Far Harad.
He squeezed the girl's hand. I have skills that the merchants
of the south will be more than willing to pay for. And you have
just proved how resourceful you are
No, said Eowyn, firmly. It is far too dangerous.
We know that several bands of Orcs are roaming these partsbesides
the wolves and the bears. You would not be safe. She rose
from the table. I will ask Legolas what
A great cheer suddenly went up from the crowd behind her, and
Eowyn belatedly remembered the archery drill. Had she missed
Legolas turn? She looked down at Lord Fingolfin. Keep
Lady Gunnhildr well-hidden, she said, Thorkell bogsveigir
must not see her.
Then she ran over to the practice field.
The other archers had withdrawn, leaving Legolas and Thorkell
standing at the centre of the line.
Against his better judgment, Haldir had been persuaded to leave
the distance at 50 yardsTo increase it, said
Legolas, would be to put him at an unfair disadvantage,and
to enforce a hastily agreed set of rules: each archer was to shoot
a single arrow into the colour called by the March Warden, and
this was to continue until one of them missed.
The elf and the man nocked their first arrows.
Make ready, called Haldir.
They raised their bows and drew to their anchors.
Red! cried Haldir.
Two arrows flew down the field and thudded into the targets almost
simultaneouslyLegolas having the dual advantage of elven
reflexes and a Galadhrim bowthe elfs hit dead-centre, the
mans slightly to the left.
Gold! cried Haldir.
The result was almost identical.
This time Thorkell bogsveigir was slightly slower to loose, but
his shot was no less accurate.
Green! shouted Haldir.
Legolas immediately took aim, but a familiar voice, saying, Gimli,
what is happening? broke his concentrationand he loosed
just a fraction of a second too soon.
His arrow hit the edge of the circle; Thorkells buried
itself, cleanly, at the centre.
The crowd gasped.
It is in, said the elf, calmly.
Make safe! shouted Haldir. Then, Captain Eofred,
will you confirm, please?
The Captain of Eomers Guard examined the target. It
is well in, he declared.
Haldir waited until Eofred had safely left the field before calling
the next colour: Make ready. Gold.
This time, it was Thorkellís arrow that went astray, missing
the edge of the small gold circle by more than an inch. Cheering,
men and elves streamed onto the field and gathered around the
Lord of Eryn Carantaur.
Eowyn ran to Legolasí side. What was that about, Lassui?
she asked and, as Legolas wrapped his arm around her, she frowned
up at Thorkell bogsveigir, silently demanding an explanation from
But the man just winked, and allowed Haldir to drag him away.